A 10th century Fraction Chant for Nativity/Epiphany tide
  • I was asked by my priest to add into the Holy Mass of our local Church a short chant to encourage veneration and devotion toward the Holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is especially for the sake those lay people who are new to the faith, who may benefit from calling to mind, the life giving grace present before them in wondrous miracle taking place before at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which in fact, all of us ought to always be recalling.

    This category of chant, as noted in several liturgy books appears to be originating in the Gallican Liturgy used in much of Gaul and neighboring land north of the Alps before Charlemagne encouraged the use of the Roman Rite to be used in it;s place. As many who study liturgy know, this brought an influence to fuse old Gallican Mass elements into the local northern european Roman Rite uses, as there were a few different Gallican Chants which were well remembered that could be seen to complement the existing italian Roman Rite. So these fraction chants appeared post 8th-9th century than to be used in the Roman Rite before the Communion Chant, and being especially prominent on the great Feasts of the Church calendar, such as Nativity/Pascha, where some continued to be used up to around the year 1400 A.D. or so.

    My old acquaintance Rev. Fr. Aidan Keller had typeset the Fraction for Paschaltide nearly 10 years ago and I had remembered it as very edifying. There were it seems a total of 14 variable fraction chants that exist. Yet I have only so far seen the more prevalent of the two, "Emite Spiritum" and "Venite populi". I hope others may find this interesting and feel free to use what I have typeset in so far as it brings prayerful contemplation of our Lord's Holy Sacrifice and Redemption for our world.

    This was a hard chant to adapt, it took me close to three hours of careful reading, noticing syllables, vowels, melodic patterns. I don't claim it could not be improved, but hope it is for now sufficient. The music may be slightly derivative, not necessarily every persons taste of melody, a typical mode ii sort, but quite classically gregorian reminding me many of the trope melodies of the same time period. Fr. Aidan Keller made an SATB setting of the Venite populi which was I found to be also eloquent, and was simplified in the music (note by note), alas I can't recall where to find that setting presently.
  • These are beautiful. The chant in English would make a very effective meditation at the NO, either solemnly with unison choir or perhaps with drones on the tonic.
  • davido
    Posts: 215
    This is wonderful. We need simple settings of texts like these so we can get rid of things like “Eat this bread.”