Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

 by Sr Fidelis

Let’s Jump In 

     The best way to learn to sing chant is to jump right in and give it a try!  Below, you’ll find a piece of chant – an antiphon from the service of Compline.
     A few things to note:  this music looks different than modern music.  For one, there are only 4 lines to the staff, as opposed to the modern 5 lined staff we’re used to. The reason for this is quite practical.  Most chants have a moderate range, and the 4 lines are ample for displaying the simple tunes.
     Another aspect you’ve probably noticed is that the notes are square.  The scribes who wrote out the chants in the twelfth century, were using quill pens with square tips.  Depending on the angle at which they were holding the pens, they were able to make the shapes we see in our antiphon below.
     One more thing to point out…….you’ll notice there are no sharps or flats – no key signature at the beginning of the piece.  Instead, you see a shape surrounding the top line of the staff.  It looks like an old fashioned telephone receiver!  This is the DO clef.  We’ll be learning more about that later.
     Please play the audio selection while you are looking at the antiphon, “Salva Nos” below.  Now try singing along.  
     You can see from the translation under the piece, that this antiphon, or short chant, is taken from the last service of the day.  Compline is often referred to as the service which “puts the church to bed”.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song

  1. I’m glad you are writing about chant. You mentioned an audio selection to listen to, and then try sining along. (Ah well, I meant singing, but I’ll let my typo stand!)
    I did not find the audio.
    I found it difficult to enlarge the antiphon until it is readable.

    So, what am I missing that should be obvious to me?

  2. I’m so sorry — we are having a little technical difficulty uploading this audio clip! Please bear with us — it should be resolved shortly! Thanks so much!

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