Gregorian Chant: The Eternal Song
So Much Color!
We find ourselves today in a “liturgical waiting period” between the Feast of the Ascension and the Feast of Pentecost. The chants for both of these feasts always strike me with the extraordinary musical coloring of their respective texts!
Have any of you ever played the game where you stand and look up into the sky, and wait for others to stop and see what it is you are looking at? Well, the chants for Ascension do exactly this with each of us! For example, look at the opening of the Introit for Ascension – Viri Galilaei (O Men of Galilee) – in which angels ask the disciples why they are looking up. Instantly, your eyes will be led in an upward direction as will your voice, chanting from the bottom to the top of the mode on just the first two words!
The chants for Pentecost are equally descriptive but in a rather more “fiery” way. The Communion antiphon for Pentecost – Factus est repente (A mighty sound from Heaven) – opens with a dramatic horn-call motive that gives an almost operatic quality to the opening words.
These are but two examples of the incredible ways which the sound of the chant is really the “sound of the words.” If you have a moment, take time during this wonderful period of anticipation between Ascension and Pentecost to learn and chant these two works I mentioned and enjoy the “discovery process!”