Before we go much further in our exploration of Gregorian Chant, it is important to look at another great “giant” – Benedict of Nursia. Benedict is often referred to as the father of western monasticism. Born in 480, only 60 years before Gregory the Great, Benedict is most well known for his Rule — a guidebook for pursuing the monastic life. Although his Rule was influenced by earlier writings, Benedict’s had a unique spirit of balance and moderation. In fact, Gregory the Great commented that the Rule was “remarkable for its discretion and its clarity of language.”
Benedict’s Rule called for a wonderful balance — “ora et labora” (prayer and work), along with spiritual reading — to assist those in pursuit of God in the monastery. But the “Opus Dei” (the work of God) was clearly the most important. Benedict devoted no less than 12 full chapters of his Rule (out of 73) to the Chanting of the Psalms; what we know today as the Divine Office. The genius of his Rule was that it allowed for the possibility of each monastic house (including future ones, like ours) to adapt the schedule of Offices to fit its own needs. Flexibility and moderation are the reason so many men and women throughout the centuries have lived by this inspired guide.
Let nothing be preferred to the work of God. – Rule of Saint Benedict