Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

By Cantor

A look forward: “Vox in Rama”

Vox in Rama (A voice in Rama is heard), is the Communion chant from the Feast of the Holy Innocents which was celebrated only a few weeks ago. This short but extraordinarily beautiful chant is the outcry of Rachel at the death of her children, and her unwillingness to be consoled.  Both the range of this chant and its relentless use of a rising and falling half-step musical motive draw us in to the depth of Rachel’s mourning. Each intermediary cadence leaves us with a sense of incompleteness and each new phrase returns to the opening sense of wailing. The ending itself concludes with the outline of a heartsick major triad on the words “because they are not.”

This is probably not a chant many people heard during the recent feast unless attending a full chanted mass that particular day. It now provides a look into what lies ahead on Good Friday. We hear in this chant some of the same sounds we experience in the final Lamentation of Jeremiah heard at the conclusion of the Pascal Triduum.  Indeed, that concluding major triad from Vox in Rama foreshadows similar sounds heard at the conclusion of the Holy Saturday Vigil — before the Great Silence of Holy Saturday which leads us to Easter.  We actually hear, through the chant, the ultimate redemption of the slaughter of those innocent children through Christ’s own sacrifice.

The Community of Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit: Gregorian chant
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About Cantor

I have been a cantor for over 25 years and an organist for most of my life. Chanting with people at home and across the country is one of my greatest joys. I remember the days of staring at the section of our undergraduate music text thinking to myself "what are all those dots and WHY do I need to know about them?!" Now, 33 years later, I am so grateful that those "dots" have helped teach me many things about God and His love!

One thought on “Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

  1. I didn’t know this chant. So haunting, so beautiful – in a tragic way. Thanks for writing about it.
    I didn’t have any chant books to have while reading the post, so looked it up online, and found it here: http://gregobase.selapa.net. Did you know about this site? An astonishing resource!
    By the way, the book arrived a couple of days ago; such a kind gift. Many thanks. I’m finishing a book on the theology of baptism at the moment for a class I’m teaching, but looking forward to getting onto your more congenial book very soon!

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