Gregorian Chant is the official music of the Catholic Church as Latin is her  official language. No other melodies translate into music so perfectly the true  meaning and feeling of the prayers of the Catholic liturgy.
For many centuries it has been the Church’s custom to pray in Latin. Her  prayers were declaimed, at first, not in an ordinary speaking voice but on a  musical tone, so that the words might be heard at a greater distance and should  be clothed with an added beauty and solemnity. Gradually this musical  declamation became melodious, moving up and down in accordance with the  natural inflections of the speaking voice, but always on musical tones. Thus,little by little, melodies were evolved which took the exact form of the words  and phrases of the prayers.
This music used by the early Christians was derived in part from that which  had been used by the Jews from time immemorial, and partly from the musical  system of the Greeks and Romans, but as the Christian liturgy grew richer and  more elaborate, new melodies of surpassing beauty grew up out of those early  traditional phrases, and were sung by the Christians of those days.
Pope Saint Gregory was a great lover of music. He had been a monk of Saint  Benedict before he became Pope and had learned to practise the liturgical chant  of the Church. Every day, seven times a day, with the other monks, he sang  the divine office, praising God in song, and praying for all those people who  had to live and work outside the monastery.
One night Pope Saint Gregory fell asleep and dreamed that he saw the  Church under the form of a muse, clothed in exquisite vesture.She was  occupied in writing out chants, and, as she wrote, she drew to her all her children  from every country of the world and gathered them under the folds  of her mantle. And, behold, on the mantle was written plainly all the principles  of the art of music, — the notes, the neums, the modes, and also a great variety  of melodies. When Saint Gregory awoke he interpreted this vision as a sign
from Heaven and undertook to collect together all the beautiful melodies that  had been used in the Church since the days of the Apostles, arranging them in  order and writing new ones where these were required. These melodies which  have come down to us under the name of Gregorian Chant are one of the most  precious heritages in the treasure house of the Church, and all her children,young and old, should love to sing them under the folds of her mantle.
The melodies which Saint Gregory collected were of a beauty so divine and  possessed so great a power to charm and to convert souls that the people thought  that they must have been dictated by the Holy Spirit. Indeed, Peter the  Deacon, secretary to the Pope, claimed to have seen his Master at work while a  dove sat on his shoulder. That is why we often see Saint Gregory pictured as  dictating the melodies to his secretary while the Holy Ghost in the form of a  dove whispers into the ear of the Saint.
After collecting the melodies, Saint Gregory founded schools of sacred music so that all the people might learn to sing them, and in singing them learn how to love  and adore God. But that was not all. The missionaries who went out to the  barbarians carried with them Saint Gregory’s melodies and instructed them’ not  only with words but also with song. Thus it came about that Saint Augustine  converted the people of England, and Saint Boniface the people of Germany.
Lifted on the wings of song, these rough tribes became gentle, and holy. Later,
when the Emperor Charlemagne founded schools throughout his empire, he insisted that the Gregorian Chant should have an important place in the studies,
and should be taught correctly. He, therefore, asked that some of the Pope’s  own cantors be sent from Rome to teach the Church singers of the various  cities of his empire so that they might all sing the melodies correctly as at  Rome. This request was granted, and from that time on the Gregorian  melodies spread throughout every country of Europe.
For twelve hundred years or more these were practically the only melodies to  which the prayers of the Church were sung. Sometimes new feasts would be  created and music had to be found, but the people of those times preferred to  adapt the ancient melodies to the new words, so great was their veneration  for the Gregorian Chants. In modern times many people have thought they  could improve on the ancient chants by composing melodies of their own  invention, but no one has ever yet succeeded in writing music so beautiful or  so holy as that which the Holy Spirit whispered into the ear of Pope  Saint Gregory.
This is the reason why Pope after Pope, and Council after Council of the  Church has insisted on the importance of preserving the Gregorian melodies,
until at last in 1903 the rule was laid down by Pope Pius X to the effect that  the Gregorian chants are the supreme type and model for all Church music and  that ” the more closely a musical composition approaches the Gregorian chant  (in form, inspiration, and character) the more sacred ¾nd liturgical it becomes,and the further it departs from that supreme model the less worthy it is of its  holy function. ”


dictating melodies to his secretary Peter the Deacon.
(From a Manuscript of the Tenth Century).

It is not only because of its beauty that the Church attaches such importance to  sacred music; it is because it has a holy purpose to perform, namely, to ” lift and  form the minds of the faithful to all sanctity.” 1 That is why every Catholic  child should study these melodies and learn to sing them with reverence. To  sing the prayers of the Church is even more holy than to recite them. It is one  of the highest forms of worship which we can offer to Almighty God.
Gregorian Chant is not difficult to learn; in many ways it is easier than  modern music. The tonal relationships are simpler. We do not meet with any  augmented or diminished intervals nor sudden changes of key by modulation.
The difficulty of singing the chant well is a spiritual rather than a material one,
because we cannot sing it well unless we learn to pray in music. For this music  is not a law unto itself. It is a musical interpretation of the prayers of the  Church. Its single purpose is “to give life and power to the thoughts” 2 — that is to make us understand them better and carry them out in our  lives. In order to do this, the music follows closely the form of the Latin  words and the Latin sentences. It follows them so closely that it hardly seems
as though the words had been put to music but rather as though the music had  sprung out of the word as a flower springs out of its stem. Other types of music  have developed around other languages such as English, French, and German,but the Gregorian chant sprang out of the Latin language, and we cannot  understand the melody or the rhythm of Gregorian chant without knowing  something of Latin.

In Latin, the accent was an ” elevation ” of the voice, a rising inflection. The  accent of a word, as we know, is the principal syllable of that word, or the  principal word in a little group of words.

a) Where would you place the accent in the following English words?












* Pope Pius X.
» Pope Pius X


according to the principles of  DOM ANDRE MOCQUEREAU  OF SOLESMES


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