Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Soothing Chant

Chant Made Simple,
By Robert M. Fowells
Paraclete Press, 59 pp.

Gregorian chant is one of the oldest Christian traditions; our earliest transcribed chants date back to the ninth century. A decade ago, it looked like the tradition was dying out, hardly performed in Catholic churches because the chants are in Latin, and rarely in Protestant churches because chant is associated with Catholicism. But the chant, as Robert Fowells writes, "carried the Christian message for 1500 years before there even were any Protestants." This little guide to Gregorian chant is aimed at any Christian church that would like to be able to perform the chants, regardless of denomination.

Designed as a simple manual, "Chant Made Simple" looks at rhythm and melody, explaining the notation, symbolism, dynamics and Latin pronunciation of the chants, with a short guide to how to learn them. Finally, and most usefully, it offers many chants along with brief explanations of how to learn and sing them. The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos's "Chant" CDs, remarkably popular (in part because the chants, written long before the heyday of classical music, sound quite modern), suggest that the purity and simplicity of the chants might mean this ancient tradition is making a comeback. With "Chant Made Simple," churches across the land can now take part in the musical phenomenon.

Reprinted from Thank you for allowing me to share this article with others.

For a selection of Gregorian Chant, please visit Gregorian Chant: Monks and Music.

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