Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ambrosian "Hodie in Bethlehem puer natus est"

I found this on Youtude, it is Ambrosian Chant, of which I know little. If you share my ignorance you might find this by the clip's poster micrologus2 useful:
Ambrosian chant (also known as Milanese chant) is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Ambrosian rite of the Roman Catholic Church, related to but distinct from Gregorian chant. It is primarily associated with the Archdiocese of Milan, and named after St. Ambrose much as Gregorian chant is named after Gregory the Great. It is the only surviving plainchant tradition besides the Gregorian to maintain the official sanction of the Roman Catholic Church.
Ambrosian chant is largely defined by its role in the liturgy of the Ambrosian rite, which is more closely related to the northern "Gallic" liturgies such as the Gallican rite and the Mozarabic rite than the Roman rite. Musically, however, Ambrosian chant is closely related to the Gregorian and Old Roman chant traditions. Many chants are common to all three, with musical variation.
Like all plainchant, Ambrosian chant is monophonic and a cappella. In accordance with Roman Catholic tradition, it is primarily intended to be sung by males, and many Ambrosian chants specify who is to sing them, using phrases such as cum Pueris (by a boys' choir) and a Subdiaconis (by the subdeacons).
Stylistically, the Ambrosian chant repertoire is not generally as musically uniform as the Gregorian. Ambrosian chants are more varied in length, ambitus, and structure. Even within individual categories of chant, Ambrosian chants vary from short and formulaic to prolix and melismatic, and may be freely composed or show significant internal melodic structure. Its most distinctive feature compared with other plainchant repertories is a significantly higher amount of stepwise motion, which gives Ambrosian melodies a smoother, almost undulating feel. In manuscripts with musical notation, the neume called the climacus dominates, contributing to the stepwise motion. More ornamental neumes such as the quilisma are nearly absent from the notated scores, although it is unclear whether this reflects actual performance practice, or is simply a consequence of the relatively late musical transcription.
The Gregorian system of modes does not apply to Ambrosian chant. Although there are no b-flats indicated in the musical notation, it seems likely that they were understood, based on Guido d'Arezzo's description of the "more perdulcis Ambrosii."
Nearly all of the texts used in Ambrosian chant are biblical prose, not metrical poetry, despite Ambrose having introduced Eastern hymnody to the West. Ambrosian chant serves two main functions in the Ambrosian liturgy: to provide music for the chanting of the Psalms in the monastic Offices, and to cover various actions in the celebration of the Mass.
And here is something even more esoteric: A Mozarabic Gloria.


Annie said...

I love chant, but the Gloria is fabulous!

parepidemos said...

One can certainly hear the influence of the Middle East in both chants. Of course, considering that the Church was born in that part of the world, that should come as no surprise.

I have always found Mozarabic chant to possess a singular beauty. Even though it is less 'peaceful' than Gregorian, the Mozarabic is hauntingly melodic.

georgem said...

The Mozarabic Gloria is beautiful and very recognisable in some of its parts.
Happy Christmas to you and all your readers.
May 2011 bring much joy and progress in your magnum opus

Robert said...

Here is a modern day Mozarabic Mass.

No chant and altar girls!. You will notice the altar girl in the beginning of the video. Sad isn't it!!.

No offence Father, but most Catholic clerics of your generation and before yours, have done some serious damage to the Roman Rite Mass, and other Rites of the Catholic Church as a whole after the Second Vatican Council.

Pastor in Monte said...

It's great stuff; the Gloria is familiar, the performance intriguing. But
(a) how much about the performance is speculation? I can't believe (though perhaps I'm wrong) that a living tradition has all those ornamentations.
(b) it would be more difficult to perform for a normal choir than would, say, a Palestrina Mass.

Mavis Longnecker said...

It sounds awful to me, let's hope it doesnt spread past Milan!

tubbs said...

the mozarabic was ... beautiful, haunting? thank you, and have a blessed Christmastide, and a blessed new year.

IanW said...

Mozorabic chant as we have it today is a reconstuction, published at the beginning of the 16th century by Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros, following a period of suppresion of the Rite. I gather the view of specialists is that this reconstruction is significantly influenced by Gregorian chant. I'm glad we have it, though, as it adds to the richness of the Church's liturgical and musical culture.

Patrick said...

Thanks for linking to my video of the Gloria, Father!

Pastor in Valle, as for the chant:

What you hear there IS a reconstruction, as IanW said, of how Mozarabic chant may have sounded like back in its heyday, and thus, I believe, it is probably going to pose a bit of a hurdle for your average parish choir (but see here: Mozarabic Chant as it is heard recently I believe (based on the pieces performed by the monks at Santo Domingo de Silos) has become much more 'tame', somewhat more 'Gregorian-ized' (cf. this version of the Mozarabe Gloria:

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