5 Apr 2009

Medieval Monasteries and Abbeys

From Composer of the Week, 9:00 am on 5 April 2009
Norwich Cathedral

Norwich Cathedral Photo: CC BY-SA 3.0

During the Middle Ages, the thousand year period spanning from Antiquity to the Modern Age, there developed an enduring pictorial history of a miracle.  The Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove, whispering into the ear of Pope Gregory the Great, who in turn dictates the divine message in song to an attending scribe.  In one set of illustrations the papal leader is understood to be receiving the holy scriptures, but in another he is viewed as a musical notator, transcribing to parchment the inspired chants of the church.

And with this ancient belief in a vision of a musical miracle Gregory’s name became enshrined as the inventor, or source, of Western Latin church music.  Many types of Chant became, and still are, known as Gregorian.

As Gregory was enshrining chant on the continent so the English were looking to Celtic traditions to establish their own significant religious festivals and culture.

Between 1096 and 1538 Norwich Cathedral, for example, formed part of a Benedictine monastery.  The thesis of St Benedict’s Rule exacted extensive changes to monastic life.  Primarily instructing followers how to lead lives of perfection and poverty, by removing themselves from the secular world. Their sacrifices would mean salvation for the monks as individuals and for the whole of Christian society. The Benedictine monks of Norwich and elsewhere followed a strict daily timetable.

Music Details:

TRAD Scripture reading – Herald HAVPCD 131

TRAD: Confiteor - Herald HAVPCD 131

HILDEGARD OF BINGEN: O tu illustrata - DHM 05472 77353

TRAD: Gloria from 'Missa in Gallicantu' - Gimell CDGIM 017

ANON: Little Ektenia - Koch 3-1488

ANON: Great Litany - Koch 3-1488

ANON: Great Litany - Koch 3-1488

ANON: Paradisi porta - HMU 907 222

ANON: Ite missa est - HMU 907 222

WHITE: Christe qui lux es III - Gimell CDGIM 030

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