pre-Gregorian sacred chant in Ireland?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 156
    Dom Saulnier, O.S.B.'s Gregorian Chant: A Guide pp. 3-4 lists the following types of pre-Gregorian chant:

    1. Beneventan (southern Italy)
    2. Roman (city of Rome and its environs)
    3. Milanese (northern Italy)
    4. Hispanic (both sides of the Pyrenees)
    5. Gallican chant(s) (in Roman Gaul, basically France)

    But was there a pre-Gregorian chant as far west as Ireland?

    Catholic Encyclopedia, "Celtic Rite" §Hymns:
    There are many native Irish hymns both in Latin and Irish. Of these, most no doubt were not intended for liturgical use, but rather for private reading, but a certain number were undoubtedly used in the services of the Celtic Church. In the "Liber Hymnorum" there are hymns by Patrick, Columba, Gildas, Sechnall, Ultan, Cummaim of Clonfert, Muging, Coleman mac UiClussaigh, Colman Mac Murchan, Cuchuimne, Oengus, Fiach, Broccan, Sanctam, Scandalan Mor, Mael-Isu ua Brolchain, and Ninine, besides a few by non-Irish poets. The Bangor Antiphoner adds the names of Comgall and Camelac to the list. Of the twelve hymns given in the latter, eight are not found elsewhere, and ten are certainly intended for liturgical use.

    (The Sarum Rite was after Pope St. Gregory the Great, c. 590 A.D.)
  • Geremia
    Posts: 156
    David Hiley, Western Plainchant: A Handbook p. 483:
    the expression 'Celtic church' is usually meant the church in Britain and Ireland until the time when Augustine of Canterbury (d. 604 or 605) and later churchmen brought Roman usages, which gradually supplanted Celtic ones. […] Almost no chant which can be considered authentically Celtic has survived.

    Buckley, A. (2001). Celtic chant. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 24 Jul. 2020:
    […] the preface to the hymn Altus prosator in a manuscript of the Irish Liber hymnorum (IRL-Dtc 1441) where it is related that Gregory the Great (d 604) sent Colmcille a cross and ‘immain na sechtmaine’ (‘hymns of the week’).
    The [7th cen.] Antiphonary of Bangor is a collection of hymns, collects and canticles for the Divine Office; […] it represents the most important manuscript for an Irish Office. […] The Antiphonary of Bangor is the only source for Hymnus quando cereus benedicitur (‘the hymn sung at the blessing of the candle’) […] Sancti venite (no.8) is the oldest recorded communion hymn.

  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    Sancti Venite (Christi Corpus Sumite) is one of the old Irish hymns (it is in the Bangor Antiphoner), and the tune is pretty old. But whether it is pre-Gregorian, I don't know.

    It's an earworm, though, and simple. They should teach it to First Communion kids.

    Anyhoo, there are lots of fun things in the Bangor Antiphoner. IIRC, that's the one that says that singing the last verse of a long hymn is equivalent to singing the whole hymn. (Because some Irish hymns had fifty or so verses. Useful if you are rowing, not so good in a hurry.)

    The Bangor Antiphonary is online with the original text and English translation.
    Thanked by 2Geremia CHGiffen
  • Maureen,

    If I read the text correctly, the Irish Church has some claim to an Eastern founding, through southern Gaul. That would make its chant origins extra-Gregorian, independent of the whole Gaelic question, wouldn't it?
    Thanked by 1M. Jackson Osborn
  • Maureen
    Posts: 662
    It would, but we don't know if any tunes survive. If the tunes are not there, it is just a poetic tradition that is left.

    That said, St. Martin of Tours and St. Hilary of Poitiers were big influences on the Irish church and monasticism, but there was also a tendency to take trips to Rome when in doubt. And of course a lot of early missionaries and Christians in Ireland were Britons. Oh, and St. Germanus.

    Of course, the Irish had a tendency to take trips in general...And to take what they liked and disregard the rest.... So you can find influences from all over the Christian world, including Greek and Egyptian stuff.

    There was a tendency last century to declare all kinds of things as native Celtic pagan practices, but a lot of times it has turned out to be borrowing and keeping practices from elsewhere, until the rest of the world forgot it. The Irish were really pretty cosmopolitan.
  • IdeK
    Posts: 81
    J.-F. Goudesenne, in his book Émergences du Chant Grégorien : Les strates de la branche Neustro-insulaire (687-930), seems to consider that there was a roman influence in Ireland and England since a very ancient date, and that this roman influence had an impact in Neustrie (northwestern France) and in the constitution of the "Gregorian Chant", which was not, in his opinion, created only in Austrasie (northeastern France) through the mixing of the gallican and the roman traditions at the time of Carloman, Pepin the Short and Charlemagne.

    I couldn't tell you more since, even in France, the book seems pretty hard to find (and it is quite expensive by French standards). The book has earned disapproving comments from Daniel Saulnier :
  • IdeK,

    To receive disapproving comments from Daniel Saulnier.... is this severe criticism, making the book "not a serious contribution", "a seriously worthless book", "a book to be considered cautiously", "practically on the level of the Gospel" or something else?
  • Geremia
    Posts: 156
    @Gamba That's Celtic?
  • IdeK
    Posts: 81
    I understand D. Saulnier thinks Goudesenne had the material for an interesting but less ambitious book, and he spoiled it by mixing all this material in an unproblematized, overambitious book that borders on guesswork.