John Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George Grove.

A Dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889): with ..., Volume 2 online

. (page 180 of 180)
Online LibraryJohn Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George GroveA Dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889): with ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 180 of 180)
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lated into a new language, but so well fitted to
the CTigencies of the 'vulgar tongue' that the
-words and Music might well be supposed to have
sprung into existence together.

Except during the period of thejzzeat Rebel-
lion, Marbecke's adaptation of Plain Song to
the Anglican Ritual has been in constant use
in English Cathedrals from the time of its first

Snblication to the present day. Between the
eath of Charles I. and the Restoration, all Music
worthy of the name was b anish ed from the Reli-
gious Services of the Angli(Sai Church ; but, after
the Acc^ion of Charles II, the practice of sing-
ing the Plain Song Versicles and Responses, was
at once resumed, but the Gregorian Tones to the
Psalms fell into entire disuse, giving place in time
to a form of Melody, oTl^-very different kind,

I WKiMM the fflorkras Mekklj to ' Sanetorom merKis ' (printed In
th» Ber. T. Helmoro^ ' Hjmnal Noted '), which flnds no place In the
' Veqienle Bomasum.'



known as the ' Double Chaunt/ This substitute
for the time-h6noured inflections of the more
antient style reigned with imdisputed sway,
both in English Cathedrals, and Parish C i rches,
until long after the b eanning of the, pi ;8ent
century. Little more than thirty years have
elapsed since the first attempts were made to
dethrone it. The campaign was opened by
Mr. W. Dyce, who, in 1843 -44, brought out his
' Book of Common Prayer Noted,' on the system of
Marbecke, in two splendid quarto volumes, which,
unfortunately, were much too costly for general
ns(9. Mr. Oakelev soon afterwards published his
' Laudes Diurnn, containing the Psalms and Can-
ticles, adapted to Gregorian Tones, for th^ use of
Margaret Street Chapel.' A more important step
was taken by the Rev. Thomas Helmore, who pro-
duced his 'Psalter and Canticles Noted' in 1850,
his * Brief Directory of Plain Song ' in the samp
year, and his 'Hymnal Noted' in 1851. These
works, more especially the first, obtained imme-
diate recog^tion. The ' Psalter and Canticles '
and the * Brief Directonr ' were used with striking
effect at S. Mark's College, Chelsea^ whidh soon
came to be regarded as a sort of normal School
of Gregorian Singing: and, at the Church of
S. Barnabas, Pimlico, not these two works only,
but the ' Hymnal Noted ' also, became as fapiliar
to the Congregation as is now the popular Hymn-
book of the present day. Since that time adapt-
ations of Plain Song to English words have ap-
peared in numbers calculated rather to confuse
than to assist the well-wishers of the movement.
Warmly encouraged by the so-called 'High
Church Party,' and wiUingly accepted by the
people, 'GregorianiT* now form the chief attrac-
tion at almost every 'Choir Festival' in the
country, are sung with enthusiasm in innumer-
able Parish Churches, and frequently heard even
in Cathedrals.

Having now presented our readers with a rapid
survey of the history of Plain Song, frx>m its first
appearance in the Christian Chuixih, to the pre-
sent day, we shall proceed to treat, ¥dth equal
brevity, of its laws, its constitution, and its dis-
tinctive character. 'V

Plain Song Melodies are arranged in several
distinct classes, each forming part of a compre-
hensive and indivisible scheme, though each is
marked by certain well-defined peculiarities, and
governed by its own peculiar laws. Of these
Melodies, l^e most important are the Tones,
or Chaunte, adapted to the Psalms — a series of
Inflections usually described by modem writers
as the ' Gbeqorian Tones,' though four of them,
at least, might be more fairly called • Ambrosian.*
[See Tones, the Gregorian.] That the Psalm
Tones are by far the most antient examples ot
Ilcclesiastical Music in exisfenceTEas never been
doubted. In structure they are nothing more
than the simplest imaginable Chaunts, each
written in one oT the fbst eight Modes, from
which it derives its name^K)jl ra^er,- numbed
—and each consisting of two distinct members,
corresponding to the two responsive phrases into

s Now the ChoNh of AH SalnU*. Hancaret Street,



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76«



PLAIN SONG.



which, in accordance with the well-known laws
of Hebrew Poetry, the Yerses of the Psaltna are
oflen divided, while, in nearly every caee, the final .
Cadence, or * Ending,' is invested, for the sake
of variety, with eeveral different forms. The
First, Tliird, Fifth, and Seventh Tones, repre-
senting the four Authentic Modes, axe repre-
sented by tradition to have been the only ones
used by S. Ambrose [see Modes, the Eoclesi-
▲stical] ; and to these, S. Gregory is said to have
added the Second, Fourth. Sixth, and Eighth,
each written in a Plagal Mode : but more than
one writer on the subject is of opinion that
these last-named Tones were in common use long
before the time even of S. Ambrose. [See Plao al
Modes.] It is, in fact, impossible to trace back
the eight fiuniliar forms to the time of their
first adoption into the Services of the Church ;
and still, more so, to account for the origin of
a supplementary form, which, though unques-
tionably written in the Ninth, or iEolian Mode,
is imiformly described, not as the Ninth Tone,
but as the * Tonus Peregrinus.' [See Tonus
Pbreorinus.]

Every Psahn and Canticle sung in the Divine
OfiBce is accompanied by an Antiphon, which,
on Festivals, precedes and follows it, but, on
Ferias, follows it only. Antiphons, selected firom
Holy Scripture, and other sources, are appointed
for every Feast, Fast, and Feria, in the Eccle-
siastical Year; and each is provided with its
proper Plain Song Melody, which will be found
in the * Antipfaonarium Romanum.' It is in-
dispensable, that, in every case, the Psalm and
Antiphon should be sung in the same Mode;
the Tone for the Psalm is therefore suggested by
the Mode of the Antiphon ; and, as the Psalm
Tones — if we except the Tonus Peregrinus, with
which we are not now concerned — are written
in the first eight Modes only, it follows that
the Melodies proper to the Antiphons must
necessarily conK>rm to the same rule. Some of
these Melodies are extremely beautiful. They
are of later date, by £Etr, than the Psalm Tones,
and much more elaborate in construction; but
they are, none the less, models of the purggt
Ecclesiastical style. [See Antiphon.]

Next in importance — and, probably, in anti-
quity also — ^to the Psalm Tones, are the Inflec-
tions used for the Ybbsicles and Besponses
proper to the Liturgy and the Divine OfiBce;
such as the *Deus in adjutorium* at Yespers,
the * Dominus vobiscum,' and *Per omnia ssecula
BSDculorum,' in the 'Ordinarium Missie,' and
other similar passages. All these are exceedingly
simple, and bear strong evidence of very high
antiquity. [See Responsoriom ; Yersiolb.]

Intimately connected with them are the va-
rious Accents which collectively constitute the
'Tonus Orationis,' the 'Tonus Lectionis,* the
'Tonus Capituli,' the 'Tonus Propheti®,' the
'Tonus Epistolse/ and the * Tonus Evangelii.'
Each Accent ix, in itsflf, a mere passing In-
flection, consisting of two, or at most three
notes ; but the traditional commixture of the
vfljrious forms gives to each species of Lection



PLAIN SONG.

a fixed character which never fiuli to adi^
itself to the spirit of the text. [See Accents.]

More elabcffate than any of the forms we have
hitherto described, and, no doubt, of considerably
later date, are the Melbdies adapted to certain
portions of the Liturgy, which have been sung
at High Mass trojp. time immemorial. We shall
first discuss thos^ belooeing to the 'Proprium
Missffi * — i.e» that t)art of the Mass whiah Tuies
on different Festivils.

The first, and c^ie of the most important, of
these, is the Introit ; which partakes, in about
equal degrees, of the characters of the Antiphon
and the Psalm Tone. The words of the Introit
are divided into two portions, of which the first
is a pure Antiphon, and the second, a single
Yerse of a Psalm, followed by the 'Gloria Patri«'
after which the Antiphon is again repeated in
full. Except that it is perhaps a little more
elaborate, the Melody of the first division differs
but little, in style, from that proper to the
Antiphons sung at Lauds and Yespers ; and, for
the reasons we have mentioned in speaking of
these, it is always written in one of the first
eight Modes. The Yerse of the Psalm, and its
supplementary * Gloria Patri,' are sung to the
Tone which corresponds with the Mo<& of the
Antiphon ; but, in this case, the simple Melody
of the original Chaunt, though permitted to ex-
hibit one single 'Ending' only, is developed
into a &r more complicated form, by the intro-
duction of accessory notes, which would be alto-
gether out of place at Yespers, when five long
Psalms are sung continuously, though they add
not a little to the dignity of this part of the Mass.
The Antiphon is then repeated exactly as before,
care being taken to sing it in a style which may
contrast effectively wi£ the preceding Chaunt ;
and, in Paschal Tide, this is followed by a
double Alleluia, of which eight forms are given
in the Graduale, one in each of the first eight
Modes. [See Introit.]

The Gradual, though consisting, like the In-
troit, of two .distinct members— the Gradual
proper, and the Yersus^-differs firom it in that
no part of it is recited, after the manner of a
Psalm, upon a single note. The Melody, through-
out, bears a dose analogy to that of the- more
elaborate species of Antiphon, as exhibited in
the first part of the Introit : and its two sec-
tions, though always written in the same Mode,
are quite distinct from each other, and never
repeat the same phrases. [SooGraddal.]

On Festivals, the Gradual is supplemented by
a form of Alleluia peculiar to itself, which, in
its turn, is followed by another Versus, wbere-
from it takes its Mode, and after which it is
again repeated, after the manner of a Da Capo,
^niis Alleluia is twice repeated, and then ec^oed^
as it were, by an elaborate Pneuma, in the same
Mode. [See Pneuma.] The style of the Yerift
corresponds exactly with that of the Gradual ; ^
and, after that has been sung, the Alleluia and
Pneuma are repeated as before.

Between the Seasons of Septuagesima and
Easter, the Alleluia, and Yersus, are omitted.



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PLAIN SONG.

iheir place bdng supplied by a Tbactus, with
one or more Versus attached to it, the musio of
which corresponds exactly, in style, with that of
the Gradual and Versus already described.

On the Festivals of Easter, Pentecost, Corpus
Chiisti, and the Seven Dolours of our Lady, and*
ft£o at Masses for the Dead, the Gradual is fol-
lowed by the Sbqubntia, or Pbosa — a n>ecies of
Hymn of which a great many examples were
once in existence, though five only now remain
in use. These five are the well-known *Vic-
timas Paschali,' 'Veni Sancte Spiritus,* 'Lauda
SioD,* Stabat Mater,' and ' Dies irs * — a aenefi
of Hymns which, whether we regard their
quaint medieeval versification, or the Musio to
whigh it is adapted, may safely be classed among
the most beautiful that ever were written. [See
Pboba ; SEQDBNTIA.3 Compared with the Me-
lodies we have been comddering. those of the
Sequences are of very modem origin indeed.
The tuneful rhymes of * Veni Sancte Spiritus * —
known among mediaeval writers as the ' Golden
Sequence* — were composed by King Robert II
of France, about the year 1000. 'Victim® Pas-
chali' is probably of somewhat later date. The
* Dies iriB * was written about the year 1 150, by
Thomas of Celano, while the * Lauda Sion ' of
S. Thomas Aquinas can scarcely have been pro-
duced before the year 1 260. In all these cases, the
Plain Song Melody was undoubtedly coeeval with
the Poetry, If not <5orapoBed by the same author ;
and we are not surprised to find itdlflfeiiug, 'in
more than one particular, from the Hymns col-
lected by S. Ambrose and S. Gregoiy. Four
out of the five examples now in use are in mixed
Modes ; and, in every instance, the Melody ex-
hibits a symmetry of oon»truotioB which dis-
tinguishes it alike from the Antiphon and the
Hynm. From the former, it differs in the regu-
larity of its rhythm, and the constant repetition
of its several phrases; from the latter, in the
altonation of these, phrases with one another;
for, while the VerHos of the Hymn are all Bung
to the same Melody, tho^e of the Sequences are
adapted to two or more dUtinct Strains, which
are frequently interchanged with each other,
almost after Uie manner of a Rondo, a peculiar-
ity which is also observable in some very fine,
though now disused Sequences, which were re-
moved from the Mi&jal ou its final revision by*
the Council of Trent.

The style of the Opfebtoricm differs but little
from that of the Gradual, though it is sometimes
a little more ornate, and makes a more frequent
ase of the Perielesis. Like the Gradual, it is
sometimes — as in the 'Missa pro Defunctis' —
followed by a Versus ; but it more frequently
consists of a single member only, without break
or repetition of any kind. In Paschal Tide,
however, it is followed by a proper Alleluia in its
own Mode. [See Offbbtorium ; Perielesis.]

The laBt portion of the *Proprium MLws'
*br which a Plain Song Melody is provided
in the OflBce-Books is the Communio. This is
usually much shorter than either the Gradual
«• the Offertory ; from which it differs in style



PLAIN SONG.



767



so slightly as to need no separate descriptiou.
It is followed, in Paschal Tide, by a prq)er
Alleluia, which, of course, conforms to its own
proper Mode.

The *Ordinarium Misses'— t.e. that part of the
Mass which is the same on all occasions — is pre-
ceded, on Sundays, by the Asperobs, which
exactly resembles the Introit, both in the ar-
rangement of its words, and the style of its
Music— an extremely b^iutiful instance of the
use of the Seventh Mode.

Of the Kteib, Globu, Sanctds, Benedictus,
and AoNUS Dei, the Ratisbon Gradual gives ten
Plain Song versions, in different Modes, and
adapted to Festivals of different degrees of so-
lenmity; besides three Ferial Masses, in which
the * uloria * is not sung, and the beautiful
'Missa pro Defimctis.' The Meehlin Gradual
gives eight forms only for Festivals, and one
for Ferial Days. Of the Credo, four versions
are given, in each volume. It is impossible
even to guess at the date of these fine old Melo-
dies, some of which are exceedingly complicated
in structure, while others are oomparatively
simple. The shorter movements, such as the
Kyrie and Sanctus, are sometimes very highly
elaborated, with constant use of the PerieleRis,
even on two or more consecutive syllables;
while the Gloria and Credo are developed from
a few simple phrases, frequently repeated, and
arranged in a form no less symmetrical than
that we have described as peculiar to the Se-
quence, though the alternation of strains, which
serves as the distinguishing characteristic of that
form of Melody, is carried out in a somewhat
different way.

The oldest known copy of the Sursum Cobda
and Prefaces dates from the year 1075. The
style of these differs very material Iv from that of
the other portions of the Mass, and, like that of
the Pater nosteb, is distiiiguished by a grave
dignity peculiarly its own. Li addition to these,
the repertoire is enriched by certain proper Me-
lodies which are heard once only during the
course of the Church's Year ; such as the £ocB
LIGNUM Cbuois and Impbopbbia, appointed for
Good Friday; and more especially, the £xuL-
TET, sung during the blessing of the Paschal
Candle on Holy Saturday. This truly great
composition is universally acknowledged to be the
finest specimen of Plain Song we possess. It
is written in the Tenth, or Hypoeeolian Mode ;
and is of so great length, that few Ecclesiastics,
save those attached to the Pontifical Chapel,
are able to sing it, throughout, without a chsjige
of pitch fatal to the perfection of its effect ; yet,
though it is developed, like the 'Credo,' and
some other Melodies we have noticed, from a
few simple phrases, often repeated, and woven,
with due attention to the expression of the words,
into a continuous whole, the last thought one
entertains, during its performance, is that of
monotony or weariness. The first phrase, which
we here transcribe, will perhaps suflSce to give
the reader a good idea of the general efiect of
the whole.



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Very different in style from the 'Exultet*
ia the wailing Chaunt, in the devoutly sad
Sixth Mode, to which, in the Pontifical Chapel,
the Second and Third Lessons, taken from the
Lamentations of Jeremiah, are sung on the three
last days in Holy Week. The Chaunt for the
Lamentations, which will he found reduced
to modem Notation at page 86 of the present
Tolume, stands as much alone as the more
jubilant Canticle ; but in its own peculiar way.
While Uie one represents the perfection of trium-
phant dignity, the other carries us down to the
very lowest depths of sorrow ; and is, indeed,
susceptible of such intensely pathetic expression,
that none who have ever beard it sung, in the
onlv way in which it can be sung, if it is intended
to lulfll its self-evident purpose, — that is to say,
with the deepest feeling the Singer can possibly
infuse into it, — will fe^ inclined to deny its title
to be regarded as the saddest Melody within
the whole range of Music.

Well contrasted with this are the Antiphons
and Bbsponsoria for the same sad days — ^the
former far more simple generally, than Antiphons
usually are, while the R^ponsoria are often graced
with Perielesea of great beauty.

Upon these, and many minor details, we would
willingly have dwelt al greater length ; but have
now no choice but to proceed, in the last place,
to speak of the Hymns included in the Divine
Office. The antiquity of these varies greatly, their
dates extending over many centuries. Among the
oldest are those appointed in the Roman £re-
viary for the ordiuary Sunday and Ferial Offices,
and the Lesser Hours. The more antient ex-
amples are adagtcd, for the most part, to simple
JA^odicB, in wipch Ligatures, even of two notes,
are of rare occurrence, a single jiote bdng,
M a general rule, sung to every syllable. Of
these, the well*known inspirations of Prudentius,
'Ales diei nuntius,' 'Lux ecce surgit aurea,* *Nox
et tenebrae,' ' Sal veto flores martyrum,* and a few
others, date from about the year 400. ' Crudelis
Herodes,* and ' A solis ortus cardine,' by Sedu-
lius, were probably written some twenty years
later. 'Beotor pot«n8, verax Deus,' 'Herum
Deus tenax vigor,' 'JEteme Bex altissime,' and
a few others, are also generally referred to the
5th century; 'Audi, benigne Conditor,' and
' Beati nobis gaudia ' to the 6th. ' Pange lingua
gloriosi,' and 'Yexilla Regis prodeunt,' were
written by S. Yenantius Fortunatns, about the
year 570. *Te luds ante terminum/ and 'Iste



PLAIN SONG.

Confessor* are believed to date from the 7th cen-
tury; 'Somno refectis artubus' from the Sth:
and 'Gloria, laus, et honor,' from the 9th. Of
the later Hymns, 'Jeeu dulds memoria' was
composed by S. Bernard in 1 140 ; and ' Verbiun
supemum prodiens' by S. Thomas Aquinas, not
earlier than 1260. B^mn-melodies of later date
fr^uently exhibit long Ligatures of great beau^ ;
and, as a rule, the more modem the Hymn, the
more elaborate U the Music to which it is adapted ;
though it does not follow that it is to be preferred,
on tbat acooruBt, to the rude but dignified Btrainfl
peculiar to a more hoary antiquity.

Leaving the student to cultivate a practical
acquaintance with the various forms of Plain Song
to which we have directed his attention, by re-
ferring to the Melodies themselves, as they stand
in the Graduale, Yesperale, and Antiphonariam
Romanum, it remains only for us to offer a few
remarks upon the manner in which this kind of
Music may be most eflectively performed.

As a matter of course, the Priest^s part, in
Plain Song Services of any kind, must be emig
without any harmonised Accompaniment what-
ever, care only being taken that the pitch chosen
for it may coincide with that necessarily adopted
by the Choir, when it is their duty to respond
in Polyphonic Hannony. For instance, if the
'Sursum oorda,* and 'Prefisuse,' be unskilfally
managed in this respect, an awkward break
will seriously injure the effect of the * Sanctus * ;
while the 'Gloria' and 'Credo* will lose mnch
of their beauty, if equal care be not bestowed
upon their respective Intonations. No lees judg-
ment is required in the selection of a suitable
pitch for the far more difficult '£xultet,* the
first division of which is interupted by a form
of ' Sursum corda,' analogous to that which pre-
cedes the * Preface' : and, in aH cases, a peHect
correspondence of intention between Priest and
Choir is absolutely indispensable to the suooess
of a Plain Song Service.

The 'Kyrie,' 'Gloria^' 'Credo,' and other
movements pertaining to High Mass, may be
sung in unison, either by Grave, or Acute Equal *
Yoices, and either with, or without, a fitting
Organ Accompaniment. It must, however, be
understood that unison, in this case, does not
mean octaves. The clauses of the * Gloria ' and
' Credo ' produce an excellent effect, when sung
by the Yoices of Boys and Men alternately: but^
when both sing together, all dignity of style is
lost in the general thinness of the resulting tone. 1
This remark applies with equal force to the rsalms
sung at Lauds and Yespers, and even to the
Hymns. In the Pontifical Chapel, the Yerses
are entrusted either to Sopranos or Altos in,
unison, or to Tenors and Basses; alternated, on
certain occasions, with the noblest and most
severe forms of Faux Bourdon— of course un-
accompanied. At Notre Dame de Paris, and
S. Sulpice, one Yerse of a Psalm, or Canticle, is
very effectively sung by Tenors and Basses in
unison, and one in Faux Bourdon ; both with
a grand Organ Accompaniment, which, when
weU managed, by no means destroys the peculiar

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Online LibraryJohn Alexander Fuller-Maitland Sir George GroveA Dictionary of music and musicians (A.D. 1450-1889): with ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 180 of 180)