Harmonia Early Music

Gregorian Chant’s Greatest Hits!

This week, getting back to the basics of church music.

Saint Jerome and Pope Gregory I

Photo: Thomas Gun

Saint Jerome, on the left, is primarily known for his writings on the Catholic Church and his translations of the Vulgate. Pope Gregory I, on the right, is identified by the dove next to him, from which Gregorian chant is said to have come.

For a large part of the Catholic Church’s history, the fundamental music in every mass was Gregorian chant. This type of chant gets its name from Pope Gregory I, who is credited with hearing these melodies directly from God through a dove that perched on his shoulder. Not only does the story of its transmission leave us with a feeling of doubt, but Gregory died in 604, while the earliest evidence of Gregorian chant comes from the 10th century. It is now thought that Charlemagne had a great deal of influence in codifying the chant repertory during his life.
Prior to this codification, each region of Europe had its own chant repertory with slightly different features. Since Charlemagne’s codification, some of these regional chants are no longer decipherable, such as Mozarabic chant, native to areas of Spain.

Music Heard On This Episode

Anonymous: Ave Maria
Pro cantione antiqua — The essential gregorian chant (Cala, 2006)
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album cover
Anonymous: Ave Maria
Pro cantione antiqua — The essential gregorian chant (Cala, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Anonymous: Victimae paschali laudes
Pro cantione antiqua — The essential gregorian chant (Cala, 2006)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Anna Pranger

Anna Pranger moved to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue a degree in music librarianship. Before this, she worked on a degree in music history at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as both an assistant producer for Harmonia and the Music Library Assistant for WFIU.

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