Gregorian Chant: The MI Modes

By Sr. Fidelis

Mode 3 is one of the most enigmatic of all modes!  It’s range is full, and it encompasses BOTH half step relationships at either end of the spectrum.  It recites on TI – an unstable pitch, which is constantly “pulling” to resolve up to DO.  The home tone, MI is a half step away from FA, so its endings always have a mysterious somber sense to them.

Non invenientes Jesum, is a beautiful example of this complex mode.  Taken from the Feast of St. Joseph, the text reads:  “Not finding Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him:  and after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:45-46.)

First to note is the opening phrase, which starts with the home tone and the MI-FA relationship, not once, but twice; then ascends right up to the TI-DO  on the word “Jesum”.  This small phrase encapsulates the essence of Mode 3!  Listen for these key relationships throughout this whole antiphon, and sing along.

non invenientes

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About Sr. Fidelis

I am 46 years old, and have been a Sister at the Community of Jesus for 26 years. Having grown up here, I have been singing Gregorian chant since I was 10! I was very blessed to study Gregorian chant with Dr. Mary Berry in Cambridge, England and here at home. Recently, I have been able to do some radio and tv interviews, sharing about the blessings of Gregorian chant. I love leading chant workshops, and have been able to do that in the US and abroad.

5 thoughts on “Gregorian Chant: The MI Modes

  1. The reciting tone here would be DO, not TI (i.e. immediately after this antiphon the psalm or canticle would be recited SOL LA DO DO DO DO DO….). Wikipedia says, “the reciting tones of modes 3, 4, and 8 rose one step during the tenth and eleventh centuries with 3 and 8 moving from B to C” — I’d be really curious to hear what those modes sounded like before that change, but I’ve never heard any Gregorian chant with a dominant/reciting tone on TI/B.

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