11 July 2017

Attending Gregorian Chant lessons, the official music of the Latin Church

The first practical and theoretical course of Gregorian Chant in Jerusalem, organized by the Custody. An opportunity to discover the ancient style music of the Roman Church.

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"He who sings, prays twice", said St. Augustin.
Over 40 participants had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the notes and in the history of one of the oldest sacred chants, thanks to the first theoretical and practical course in Gregorian Chant of the Holy Land, organized by the friars of the Custody in Jerusalem, from July 4 to July 8.

Director of Magnificat Institute
"This is the first time we organize a course in Gregorian chant in the Holy Land in Jerusalem, although the idea started from the participation of some friars in similar courses abroad. Since it is not always easy to coordinate overseas trips, especially for a big group of people, the Custos came up with the plan of inviting an acquaintance of him who is an experienced Gregorian Chant singer to teach a course here for all those who can participate.”

The course in Gregorian Chant was initially proposed to enthusiasts, members of choirs and religious of the Holy Land and it attracted students from the Magnificat (The School of Music of the Custody), priests and aspiring friars as well.

Course participant
"I am from the Latin parish of Bethlehem. I came here because I belong to the choir of St. Catherine. I wanted to learn the nature and implementation of this chant..The course is wonderful and I am really happy to have had the chance to participate.”

Course participant
"I am a choir director. I am studying opera here and I am planning to obtain a bachelor's and a master's degree. I am following the Gregorian Chant course to be able to teach it later, to learn how to sing and to teach a monody, as well as to introduce this type of chant in the churches.”

Director of Magnificat Institute
"The course consists of mainly two parts. 5 hours a day are divided this way: two hours of theory and history, where both beginners and non-beginners review the history of the Gregorian Chant. The morning ends with an hour of practice and the afternoon is all dedicated to singing and practicing.”

It was called 'Gregorian' because, according to tradition, it was collected during the papacy of Pope Gregory the Great at the end of the sixth century; its origins are still being debated, but certainly, the synthesis of Roman chant and Gallican chant, starting from the eighth and the ninth century, was crucial to its development.

Researcher - Musicology - History of Music - University of Bolzano
"Charlemagne decided to standardize the liturgy and even the singing style in his vast kingdom, therefore he asked for help and received from Rome a song repertoire that was valid throughout his empire."

Even from the musical point of view, different unknowns facts remain: the Latin pronunciation, official language of the chants, the scales used, the rhythm or the sound of the voice output. Nevertheless, there are certainties.

Researcher - Musicology - History of Music - University of Bolzano
"It is a monophonic chant, so traditionally, many people sing following a single melodic line. The melody is very fluid, there is no defined rhythm, but the rhythm is shaped on the word, which is first of all a sacred word, since the texts are drawn from the scriptures, from the gospels. The Gregorian Chant is an amplification of these texts, so it is closely related to the sacred text."

This is why, from the ninth century, the Gregorian Chant has spread widely, becoming the official chant of the Roman church of the Latin rite and a fundamental element of its liturgies.