I am forever looking at old books. If there is a used bookstore to be found, I will probably find it! Recently, I came across a wonderful “old” book (from GIA-1945) simply entitled “Gregorian Chant”, written by Father Andrew F. Klarmann, discussing all kinds of wonderful aspects of chant.
In reading through this book, I found a number of quotable “gems” which I will feature in this blog over the next few weeks. However, I thought a great point to start with has to do with the performance of chant in the responses found at Mass. Rev. Klarmann states that, “the reply et cum spiritu tuo should always be made in a steady, joyful voice expressive of the holy joy and lively faith abiding in the hearts of the faithful…the et cum spiritu tuo should follow immediately upon the Dominus vobiscum not unlike grateful replies which follow heartfelt greetings in our social life…Our meetings in God’s house should manifest every sentiment of joy and love.” (p.114)
What moves me about these remarks concerning the performance practice of chant is the complete emphasis on the spirit behind the words and why they are chanted in the first place. Spirit prior to technique – technique in service of the Spirit – chant in service to the text! This must always be our approach to the understanding of chant or else we place the elements of chant in backward order! How wonderful it is to discover these principles so beautifully espoused in a small, post-World War II book intended to teach the basics of chant!