In a new summer series, OLMC music director and music professor, Ms. Andrea Covais explores the rich tradition of sacred music. Each week we will feature a new song that will be sung during that weekend’s Masses at communion. We hope these short pieces enrich and deepen your spiritual journey during these times.
This week we travel much further back in time than any of our previous week’s entries, to the thirteenth century to be exact, in our discussion of the chant Pange lingua. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote the words to this chant in the year 1274 to a much older melody, probably written in the fifth or sixth century. These solemn and sacred words and this chant have endured the test of time for centuries and generations, often sung each Holy Thursday during the Eucharistic procession and also on the Feast of Corpus Christi, two weeks after Pentecost. Often combined with the Tantum Ergo, we have come to know this beautiful melody and text, one which deepens our relationship with God and acknowledges His physical presence to us in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Chant, or Gregorian Chant as most people know it dates as far back as the Jewish tradition before Christ, but developed in Europe around the ninth and tenth centuries. It is monophonic (only one melody line), unaccompanied and often sung in Latin. Chant is written in different notation than the modern music we see today, known as neumatic notation. Small squares on a four (not five) line staff represent the notes. There is often no time signature, no measures and no metric guide. The rhythm and flow are based on the rhythm of language. To give it a more exotic sound, chant is often written not in the modern diatonic scales, but scales called modes, often using different combinations of notes not standard to our modern ears.
Click on the link below to see the text and translation and check out a website called traditionalcatholicliving.com, which helps families learn more about sacred music, especially chant, and how to proclaim it.
Text and translation: http://www.