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According to Gregory the Great (letter to Bishop John of Syracuse, Oct. 598) the Roman habit to sing the alleluia was imported from Jerusalem during the time of Jerome and Pope Damasus. Already in 445 Pseudo-Sozomenos wrote about a touristic attraction which used to happen only once a year:

Πάλιν αὖ ἑκάστου ἔτους ἄπαξ ἐν Ῥώμῃ τὸ Ἀλληλούϊα ψάλλουσι, κατὰ τὴν πρώτην ἡμέραν τῆς Πασχαλίου ἑορτῆς, ὡς πολλοῖς Ῥωμαίων ὅρκον εἶναι, τοῦτον τὸν ὕμνον ἀξιωθῆναι ἀκοῦσαί τε καὶ ψᾶλαι.

Again in Rome they use to sing once a year the alleluia on the first day of Easter, so that a lot of Romans swear by it [were an oath] being worthy to listen to this hymn and to sing it.

Hermias Sozomenos Salaminios: Κεφ. 19 · Κατάλογος τοῦ συγγραφέως εἰδήσεως ἄξιος τῶν παρὰ διαφόροις ἕθνεσι Ἐκκλησίαις ἐθῶν [Catalogue of the author's worthy reports about various pagan and church rites]. Vol. 7 of Ἐκκλησιαστικῆς Ἰστορίας, in: Jacques-Paul Migne, ed. 1857-66. PG, Paris. vol. 67, col. 1476.




Bailey, Terence. 1983. The Ambrosian Alleluia. London: Unwin Brothers Ltd.
Crocker, Richard L., John Caldwell, and Alejandro Enrique Planchart. “Sequence (i).” Grove Music Online.
Jeffery, Peter. 1984. “The Introduction of Psalmody into the Roman Mass by Pope Celestine ....” Archiv Für Liturgiewissenschaft 26: 147–65.
Levy, Kenneth. 1970. "The Italian Neophytes’ Chants." JAMS 23: 181–227.
McKinnon, James W. 1996. “Preface to the Study of the Alleluia.” Early Music History 15: 213–249.
McKinnon, James W., and Christian Thodberg. "Alleluia." Grove Music Online.
Pfisterer, Andreas. 2008. “Italian and Gallican Alleluia Psalmody.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 17: 55-68.
Thodberg, Christian. 1966. Der byzantinische Alleluiarionzyklus: Studien im kurzen Psaltikonstil. transl. Holger Hamann. in: Monumenta Musicae Byzantinae - Subsidia 8. Kopenhagen: E. Munksgaard.
Turco, Alberto. 1992. Il canto antico di Milano: La salmodia alleluiatica e antifonata nelle fonti manoscritte. Vol. 1. Quaderni Di “Studi Gregoriani”. Roma: Torre d’Orfeo.
Wellesz, Egon. 1954. “Gregory the Great’s Letter on the Alleluia.” Annales Musicologiques 2: 7–26.
Western Plainchant
Bailey, Terence. "Ambrosian chant." Grove Music Online.
———. 2008. “A Lost Ambrosian Antiphoner of Southern Italy.” Plainsong and Medieval Music 17: 1-22.
Bailey, Terence, and Paul Merkley. 1989. The Antiphons of the Ambrosian Office. Vol. 50. Musicological Studies. Ottawa: Institute of Mediaeval Music.
Bernard, Philippe. 1996. Du chant romain au chant grégorien (IVe-XIIIe siècle). Patrimoines. Christianisme. Paris: Éditions du Cerf.
Colette, Marie-Noël. 1995. “Grégorien et vieux-romain: deux différentes méthodes de collectage de mélodies traditionelles?” In Laborare Fratres in Unum: Festschrift Laszló Dóbszay zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. Janka Szendrei and David Hiley, 37–52. Spolia Berolinensia 7. Hildesheim: Weidmann.
Dyer, Joseph Henry. 1981. The Offertories of Old-Roman Chant : a Musico-liturgical Investigation. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International. see also Rebecca Maloy.
Haas, Max. 1997. Mündliche Überlieferung und altrömischer Choral: Historische und analytische computergestützte Untersuchungen. Bern: Lang.
Hucke, Helmut, und Joseph Dyer. "Old Roman chant". Grove Music Online.
Huglo, Michel. 2010. “Psalmody in the Ambrosian Rite - Observations on Liturgy and Music.” In Ambrosiana at Harvard : New Sources of Milanese Chant, ed. Thomas Forrest Kelly. Cambridge, Mass.: Houghton Library, 97–124.
Levy, Kenneth. 1987. “Charlemagne’s Archetype of Gregorian Chant.” JAMS 40: 1–30.
———. 2000. “A New Look at Old Roman Chant.” Early Music History 19: 81–104.
———. 2001. “A New Look at Old Roman Chant - II.” Early Music History 20: 173–197.
———. 2003. “Gregorian Chant and the Romans.” JAMS 56: 5–41.
———. 2009. “On the Origin of Neumes.” In Early Music History - Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Music, by Iain Fenlon. Cambridge, New York, New Rochelle, Melbourne, Sydney: Cambridge University Press, 7:59–90.
Levy, Kenneth, John A. Emerson, Jane Bellingham, David Hiley, und Bennett Mitchell Zon. "Plainchant." Grove Music Online.
McKinnon, James. 2000. The Advent Project the Later-seventh-century Creation of the Roman .... Berkeley: University of California Press.
———. 1987. “The Fourth-Century Origin of the Gradual.” Early Music History 7: 91–106.
———. 1998. “Compositional Planning in the Roman Mass Proper.” Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 39: 241–245.
———. "Gregorian chant." Grove Music Online.
Pfisterer, Andreas. 2002. Cantilena Romana: Untersuchungen zur Überlieferung des Gregorianischen Chorals. Beiträge Zur Geschichte der Kirchenmusik ; 11. Paderborn: Schöningh.
Werf, Hendrik van der. 1983. The Emergence of Gregorian Chant: A Comparative Study of Ambrosian, Roman and Gregorian Chant. Rochester, N.Y.: H. van der Werf.


Oriental & Slavic Rites

Frøyshov, Stig Simeon R. 2007. “The Early Development of the Liturgical Eight-Mode System in Jerusalem.” Saint Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 51: 139–178.
Poliakova, Svetlana. 2009. “Sin 319 and Voskr 27 and the Triodion Cycle in the Liturgical Praxi...”. PhD, Lissabon: Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Tags: Alleluia, Allilouiarion, ByzantineInfluence, CarolingianReforms, Constantinople, GregorytheGreat, JamesMcKinnon, Notker, Oktoechos, OrdoRomanum, More…Rome, Sacramentary, ScholaCantorum, Sequentiary, Sozomenos

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Replies to This Discussion

About Notker as a reader of unnotated manuscripts

Notker's preface to his liber hymnorum offers some important information about the melodic memory of Frankish cantors concerning alleluia melodies and about the fact that he was able to recognize even differences to his melodic memory (referred to "sequences") by reading proses wich were almost certainly written without any neumes (unfortunately the beginning of the preface with its dedication was omitted in the 10-century copy of Einsiedeln, Ms. 121, pp. 429-434):

My questions are: Did he say anywhere that he believed that his melodic memory was according to the Roman practice? How much did he as a reader believe in the authority of the scribe? And what did he say about authorities who had to support his publication?

Few questions

Do we know where the main alleliuas of the Old Roman graduale come from then?

Some of them are also found in the Greg books, but Dom Saulnier, for example, argues that they are not part of the "vieux-fond". I understand that he implies they were added later.

Do you think they should be measured? Binary? Ternary?


Le témoignage de St Grégorie est sujet à caution (cf. Willy Apel, Gregorian Chant, p.376-377).
Ce qui est certain c'est que nous n'avons aucune idée de ce qu'était l'Alleluia à la messe avant le VIIIe siècle (en tout cas). On sait que les alleluia, soient-ils grégoriens ou romains, sont tous plus ou moins tardifs...

Dear Richard

Before I answer your question about Daniel Saulnier's opinion, I would like to know, where did you read it. Of course, I know the repertoire lists made by James McKinnon which refer to Carolingian books and to the 8th century, and it is likely that Daniel Saulnier commented on them.

Concerning Roman chant between the 4th and the 7th century there was only one alleluia, possibly translated as "Pascha nostrum", at least this is what Pseudo-Sozomenos wrote about his journey. If we believe the sources of Gregory's letter addressed to John of Syracuse, it came from Jerusalem, presumably taken from the local Byzantine cathedral rite according to the Divine Liturgy of St. James, but more likely an alleluia preceding the gospel reading during the morning service (Orthros). Gregory had expanded the Roman use and therefore it had such an important role in the Roman rite which cannot compared with the role of any allelouiarion in any Byzantine cathedral rite.

This was probably the reason, why he was accused by Sicilian Greeks that he as the reforming Pope had used their allelouiaria for his reform of the Roman liturgy. His denial can be read as a confirmation, because there is a certain Old-Roman repertory of alleluia-melodies which use the same melodies for the refrain. This corresponds to the convention of 13th-century kontakaria in Italy, written in Middle-Byzantine notation, which only notates the psalm verses in the liturgic proprium (according to the convention of menaion starting with September), while the alleluia melodies (troparia) are all collected and ordered according to the oktoechos in an appendix. These are very evident traces of a certain Studite reform during the 9th century, because the Italian manuscripts in times of the Staufen dynasty were certainly written for monastic use, and there are similarities between synoptic Byzantine Round notation and the synoptic use of Roman neumes. But we have no evidence that only Greek cathedral rites were used during Gregory's reform, the so-called "Advent Project", there were also other local traditions as Milan and Ravenna (the latter might be important for comparative studies of the Vigil on Holy Saturday).

Concerning James McKinnon's classification of alleluia-types according to their melodies, I already made an objection during a discussion of the Old-Roman "Alleluia—Vidimus stellam", that this alleluia which belongs according McKinnon to the Dies-type, used the same plagios protos refrain like the Greek alleluia "O kyrioc" which McKinnon classified as unique. So far, nobody had answered it, but I doubt seriously that Frankish cantors composed these melodies.

What do you mean with binary and ternary measured? If you suggest to dance a valtz with an alleluia, my question will be how can you be so sure, that the rhythm of Roman cantors was not asymmetric? But if you mean a distinction of long and short lengths on one (binary) or two levels (ternary), as it had been discussed by Dirk van Kampen, I can only say, as an incompetent reader (lector), that the Old-Roman notation looks rather like the rhythmic system of the Messine school (an assumed distinction on one level). I cannot subscribe Luca Ricossa's point of view that Old-Roman neumes have no rhythmic indications at all. Of course, nobody today can understand the rhythm of Roman chant properly just by reading the notated chant books, written since the end of the 11th century, without any knowledge of its contemporary oral transmission. I have no doubts that Roman chant was measured, but how and which was the rhythmic difference between certain genre like alleluia, I don't know.

Cher Luca

Le témoignage de Grégoire le Grand pendant le VIII siècle était une affaire assez politique, même que l'usurpation des deux Romes par l'Empéreur Charlemagne était une rêve peu plus tard, sa demande d'un sacramentaire "grégorien" (dans l'imagination de Charlemagne la liturgie romaine selon la schola cantorum au temps de Grégoire le Grand) au Pape Adrien I était peut-être déjà inspirée par l'attitude grégorienne qui n'a pas connu le grecque et qui n'avait jamais accepter l'autorité du patriarchat à Constantinople. Ça pourraît expliquer pourquoi Grégoire même était gêné tant, quand il avait répondu à la reproche que les chantres romains avaient pris quelque allélouiaria de la tradition Constantinopolitaine dans son temps, malgré que l'origine hagiopolitaine du premier allélouiarion n'etait évidemment aucun problème de sa justification. Bien sûr que le Gregorianum-Hadrianum (la compilation du sacramentaire fait pour Charlemagne et les chantres francs) n'avait satisfait les expectations des chantres.

Mais quand on compare l'autorisation de l'écriture chez Notker, la censure du préface dans la version d'Einsiedeln est déjà preuve que cette Abbaye n'avait plus d'intéresse au problème de l'autorisation à St Gall pendant le dernier siècle. On peut comprendre la modestie de la geste Notkerienne en face au X siècle, quand on avait écrit les premiers antiphonaires et graduels neumés en pleine. Bien sûr l'icône hagiographique de St Grégoire avec la colombe était une convention, mais elle avait parlé d'un Père inspiré, comme encore dans le sacramentaire de Charles le Chauve (FPn lat. 1141, fol. 3r). L'illumination de l'antiphonaire Hartker a changé le sujet :

St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 390, p. 13

Pas complètement, parce que cette petite manipulation était bien connue chez l'art de la mémoire comme métier du clergie. On ne cache pas le substitué, mais on ajoute une autre image comme le pétit détail des neumes sangalliens dans les manuscrits des scribes. L'effet était assez fort qu'il a changé le sujet complètement. Néaumoins la proportion et la position centrale de St Grégoire n'a pas changé dans cet image, mais ici c'est Grégoire le Grand et pas un archêvèque vivant qui autorise le manuscrit du chant. Voilà, c'est la source par excéllence pour toutes les manipulations aujourd'hui.

Dear Olivier,

Thanks for your input. Sorry for my late reply. I am note at home so cannot take the exact text he disctated, but what I am referring to is what Saulnier refered to in one of his sessions at Solesmes when defining gregorian chant. He defined it as the romano-franc repertoire for the propers of the mass excluding Alleluia, and that was present in the north-east of France by the 8th centtury. So a rather strict definition, but I always wondered why the Alleluia was not included, since it appears in all the oldest graduale.

most gregorian all are not roman

Some more ideas concerning the Carolingian reception of Roman chant during the 8th century

Of course, I will discuss James McKinnon's ideas based on Willi Apel later on.

But here I would like to stay in the Carolingian Francia of the 8th century. Please note that Kenneth Levy's abbreviation of ROM-8/11 is based on the Sacramentary of Gellone (2003, 8). So we have already two inventions of Roman chant in Francia, the one during the reign of Pippin III is based on the Gelasian Sacramentary, the second one during the reign of Charlemagne (Admonitio generalis, 789) was the first "Gregorian", because it was based on the Gregorianum-Hadrianum. In this respect, it is correct that Levy's as well as McKinnon's definition of Old Roman chant can be called "based on a Frankish concept", but so far not on a Frankish redaction.

Concerning the episode of the Roman cantor Symeon as a teacher of Frankish cantors at a Messine monastery during the time of Bishop Chrodegang—have a look on the letter in which Pope Paul I excused in front of King Pippin III the absence of Symeon which had been forced by the unexpected death of his master "Georgius" (Levy 2001, 180). I always wondered about the Greek names of Symeon and his master Gregorios as leaders of the Roman Schola cantorum. Without any doubt, for prestigious protopsaltes Constantinople must have become quite unattractive during the crisis of iconoclasm, as well as Rome had become attractive, since Pope Gregory III excommunicated the Byzantine Emperor Leo III in 731, on the base of his iconoclastic edicts. So who were exactly these two directors of the Schola cantorum?

Dear Richard

I am quite astonished, if the notion of Pope Gregory I's letter, as far as it referred his reply to the denunciations of a Greek Sicilian, might have ruined the pleasure, that some colleagues once had, when they studied alleluia. Hopefully our correspondence will change this sadness.

Indeed there is nothing more which you need to to know about alleluia, that it is the most common refrain in psalmody, however you like to call this refrain. Hence, Saulnier's definition which he gave in the first chapter of his doctoral thesis (Sorbonne, June 2005) about the Roman-Frankish Antiphonary, might be enough to understand even the most elaborated forms:

This does not imply that I am not be very interested in your excerpts or a personal summary based on Daniel Saulnier's lecture about the alleluia in the 8th-century Mass Antiphonary.

Dear Luca

If you meant that "the most Frankish is usually not at all Roman", this might be rather a Notkerian way to take it, or the way of another gifted poet-cantor, Adémar de Chabannes, if you are so free to replace "Gregorian" with "Gallican". At least the latter was an important part of Kenneth Levy's definition of Gregorian or Roman-Frankish chant (2003).

Please don't mind, if I cannot continue the correspondence before the weekend.

Frankisch is not gallican, gallican is mostly (totally) unknown, most gregorian alleluia are frankisch creations.

Gallican doesn't mean much. I have the feeling that it is simply a category created to put in everything non-roman

Cher Oliver,

Voici quelques réflexions à propos la discussion que vous avez  lancée sur le vieux-romain

La rédaction du sacramentaire vieux-gélasien est contemporaine de la création du chant grégorien de la Messe, mais il n’existe aucun indice de l’influence certaine de l’un sur l’autre : aucun saint, aucun élément liturgique ; en somme rien du tout.

Certes, si l’on se refuse à tout classement chronologique des documents et des répertoires de chant – classement pourtant indispensable à une étude scientifique même élémentaire –, si l’on veut traiter du vieux fonds grégorien du 8e siècle, en même temps que de ses développements au 9e siècle, alors on trouvera, dans les titulatures des formulaires utilisés par le chant grégorien de la Messe, la présence de saints appartenant à la tradition gélasienne. Encore ne s’agit-il pas de l’influence du vieux-gélasien, mais de celle des sacramentaires appelés « gélasiens du 8e siècle ». Cette influence arrive trop tard pour apporter des précisions sur la formation du répertoire grégorien de la Messe.

Concernant l’alléluia avant le 8e siècle, nous ne sommes pas dépourvus. Les manuscrits vieux-romains des 11-13e siècles donnent des pièces dont l’agencement est dans certains cas (notamment en Temps Pascal) attesté en Gaule dès le 9e siècle, et dont les mélodies (aux 11-13e siècles) sont le plus souvent parallèles à celles du grégorien. Il n’y a donc aucune raison fondée scientifiquement de croire que les manuscrits romains des 11-13e siècles ne donnent pas substantiellement la mélodie des alléluias romains chantés au 8e siècle. Il faut bien sûr écarter les additions tardives manifestes, qui prennent place surtout dans le plus ancien des antiphonaires romains – Cologny, Bodmer C 74 - et ne pas s’attarder à ces pièces comme si elles prouvaient une large contamination des manuscrits romains par le grégorien.

Qui pourra apporter la démonstration et l’explication de ce que le rythme des alléluias romains a été différent de celui des alléluias grégoriens, alors que les premiers alléluias grégoriens ont été créés à partir des pièces équivalentes romaines ? Votre réflexion, cher Oliver, est juste : « la notation romaine ressemble plutôt au système rythmique de l'école messine » - ce qui signifie que le rythme du vieux-romain ressemble à celui donné par les manuscrits messins.

Ces manuscrits messins n’indiquent pas une rythmique binaire ou ternaire, mais une rythmique verbale. Le vieux-romain, comme le grégorien, a une rythmique qui s’est développée à partir de la psalmodie et en référence à elle ; cette rythmique ne change pas de nature, même dans les mélismes les plus complexes. La rythmique grégorienne est UNE ; elle est purement verbale, car elle a son fondement dans le latin dit ou chanté, et dans rien d’autre. La poésie latine n’a pas eu de place dans le chant de la liturgie papale des premiers siècles de l’Église, ni dans le grégorien primitif.

Lorsque le « Graduel Romain » rythmé selon les principes de Dom Mocquereau donne, dans un « Gloria in excelsis », le mot « glo'-ri-a » sur les notes ré-do-do, et qu'il place un ictus sur la survenante « ri », je suis sûr que ce système n'est pas conforme à la rythmique grégorienne, puisqu'il contredit la rythmique verbale d'un mot latin.

Au plan méthodologique, il est très curieux de poser les deux principes suivants et de les considérer comme certains :

* Au 8e siècle, il y a une large discontinuité entre le vieux-romain et le grégorien ; par conséquent, le grégorien ne peut presque rien nous dire du répertoire vieux-romain.

* Il y a eu remaniement entre le répertoire vieux-romain du 8e siècle et le répertoire transmis dans les manuscrits romains des 11-13e siècles ; par conséquent, le témoignage de ces manuscrits n’a guère de valeur pour nous.

Ces deux principes sont faux, et c’est à ceux qui les défendent de les prouver. Évidemment, ils permettent d’échafauder à l’infini des hypothèses invérifiables.

Cher Père Guilmard

Merci beaucoup pour votre réponse inspirante et votre opinion concernant les hypothèses de Kenneth Levy que la rédaction tarde du chant vieux-romain était une création des chantres entre le VIII et le XI siècle.

Ces manuscrits n'étaient évidemment pas selon les expectations des rechercheurs, et je suis très content que vous défendez ces enfants mal aimés. Si je vous ai compris bien, vous pensez que la différence entre le chant romain et la conception de cette tradition chez les chantres francs qui était déjà testifiée pendant le IX siècle (à St Gall et à Mont Cassin), correspond à la différence comme un lecteur des manuscrits la trouve. Au moins quand il compare les alleluias dans les notations franc-romaines du X siècle avec les manuscrits romains du XI siècle, mais pour les autres parts du repertoire il y avait remaniements entre le VIII et le XI siècle qui expliquent la désillusion des rechercheurs qui expectaient le rite vieux-romain non touché par les rites de la réforme. J'espère qu'on pourra concrétiser la période des remaniements, mais je regarde déjà quelques efforts entre 2000 et 2003 chez Kenneth Levy.

En fait, j'ai choisi "Alleluia. Pascha nostrum" aussi pour la discussion de la provenance du Vat. lat. 5319. La version là est peut-être moins contaminée que même celle du Cologny Bodmer.

Concernant le sacramentaire gélasien, pardonnez-moi, c'était une confusion entre le sacrementaire gélasien et le sacramentaire de Gellone de ma part. Kenneth Levy a seulement écrit, que le sacramentaire de Gellone doit être similaire du sacramentaire romain, échangé pendant le temps du Pépin le Bref à Metz (2003, 8):

That is consistent with the evidence of the prayer books, where calendars and content identify the Sacramentary of Gellone as a close relative of the early GREG-8 antiphoners.

Il a fait une différence entre la version franc-romaine enseignée à Metz comme projet de Pépin et la version grégorienne comme projet de son fils Charlemagne et il me semble qu'il avait plus confiance à la réforme de Pépin.

C'était Jean Diacre à Mont Cassin qui avait écrit dans sa Vita Gregorii que Pape Adrien I avait envoyé un Gélasien modifié à Charlemagne. Peut-être une autre manipulation d'un chroniste, mais en fait le Hadrianum-Gregorianumne ne servirait pas trop de besoins des chantres francs. En plus de votre commentaire utile, Andreas Pfisterer (2002) offre une discussion des sacramentaires et de chaque rôle des versions différentes.

Concernant le rhythme, j'avais simplement dit, que j'observe l'usage d'un simple accent dans la notation messine du Xe siècle, mais aussi dans la notation romaine du XI siècle, pas le diepisemata comme dans la notation sangallienne. Les rythmes ternaires ou triples me font penser aux expériences parisiennes du XIII siècle (les trochées et les iambes musicales, pas de la parole). Néanmoins, il me plaît de prendre votre observation comme une proposition de considerer la version messine dans la comparaison.

Concernant l'usage du grec comme langue liturgique à Rome, c'était l'argument de Pape Grégoire I dans son lettre que Jérôme avait introduit l'alleluia de Jérusalem et je supposait traduit en latin (bien sûr je ne parlait pas seulement de l'antienne ;) Selon James McKinnon (1996, 225-227), il s'agît d'une allusion à la pseudo-correspondence du Pape Damase I, qui était inventé dans le temps de Grégoire pour justifié la pratique bénédictine comme pratique romaine depuis l'introduction du latin. Je dois admettre, il me semble plus une justification d'une autre siècle.

Dear Luca,

Than it is still a very modest and precise label in comparison with "Gregorian" (for everyone interested, I recommend the entry "Gallikanischer Ritus" by Bruno Stäblein in the old MGG, Michel Huglo and Co's entries were still based on it, but without Stäblein's Italian examples which might have disqualified his work for some). Kenneth Levy's "Gallican" simply refers to the use of chant text taken from the "Gallican psalter" (see Martin Morard's remarks about the Psalter projects, Levy's direction is better described in his essay "Toledo, Rome and the Legacy of Gaul"), while Adémar de Chabannes did probably not like the obedient attitude of the Frankish cantors, when they met Symeon at Metz (at least according to his historical imagination). He identified rather with a disobedient type of Frankish cantors which he called "Gallican". He could hardly call it "Frankish" after the differentiation in his Chronicon. There are several differences between the Aquitanian, the Italian, and the Northern French redaction of the "Gregorian" during the 11th century, but not everywhere the Non-Roman was labeled "Gallican".

In this context it might be relevant to think about the contemporary motivation of Roman cantors to establish their own written transmission so late, in a place where reforms were usually designated, but not realized as long as the Roman cantors and their tradition are treated as the model for others.

Why then (after the liturgical reform of Old Beneventan chant under Abbot Desiderius at Montecassino, the chant reform in the context of 11th-century reform papacy)? Was this reform a new definition of "Gregorian chant" which was realized 100 years later, after the Ottonic kings failed in their fight against Arab Sicily? And was this the first time that Roman cantors were so close to the reform that they were finally forced to follow into the footsteps of the reformers and their use of its medium, the written transmission of neumes as "secret letters" which represented an exclusive correspondence among cantors?

Gregory's Chant

Dear Padre Nicolás Despósito

As one of those who asked about my opinion concerning James McKinnon's Advent Project, I just would like to answer you on the basis of my limited knowledge (I hope that I can tell you something that you cannot read anywhere else, and you are welcome to criticise or to oppose with your arguments). As I said, there had been several controversial discussions about the topic during the last years, but also new research in the field of oriental liturgies could confirm an earlier development as so far assumed, and this is also relevant for the discussion of Roman chant. Therefore I made a little bibliography, but everybody who thinks, that I have forgotten some other important essay or publication, is welcome to share it with us, so that I can complete the bibliography.

The sources

The most important source about Roman liturgy which we have from Gregory's time, is his decree (dated 5 July 595), and a letter to Bishop John of Syracuse, written after his chant reform in October 598. Concerning McKinnon's studies, I think it is useful to make a difference between the very intensive Preface (1996), which was the only part of his never published alleluia study left to us. It has a very interesting and sophisticated interpretation of Gregory's letter and a very rich and unordered collection of quotations from different sources, which he restructured in the first part of his Advent Project (2000). The early interpretation of the sources was very rigid and often blocked his own thoughts, whereas he found later in the first part dedicated to the prehistory an open way to alternative interpretations. Despite the fact that this Preface is such an important part of the creation of the later book, where the original focus of alleluia has already moved to the compositional planning of the Mass Proper after the foundation of the Schola cantorum, the former interpretation of certain passages in Gregory I's letter had been omitted in the book, despite it shares the same references around the Liber pontificalis and the pseudo-correspondence between Damasus and Jerome, written some decades ago.

The controversy about Gregory I's letter to Bishop John of Syracuse

In the redaction of Gregory's letter and the translation according to James McKinnon (1996, 230):

Cui cum dicerem: Quas consuetudines sequimur? respondit: Quia alleluia dici ad missas extra pentecosten tempora fecistis; quia subdiaconos spoliatos procedere, quia kyrieleison dici, quia orationem Dominicam mox post canonem dici statuistis. Cui ego respondi, quia in nullo eorum aliam ecclesiam secuti sumus.

Nam ut alleluia hic non diceretur, de Hierosolymorum ecclesia ex beati Hieronymi traditione tempore beatae memoriae Damasi papae traditur tractum; et ideo magis in hac re illam consuetudinem amputavimus, quae hic a Graecis fuerat tradita.

When I asked him, 'which of its customs do we follow?' he replied: 'that you have "alleluia" said at Masses outside the Pentecostal period; that subdeacons process without their vestments; that the Kyrie eleison is recited; and that you decreed that the Lord's Prayer be said immediately after the canon'.

I responded to him: 'in none of these did we follow another church. For the custom that "alleluia" is not said here [outside the fifty-day period] is known from the report of the Blessed Jerome to have been taken over from the church of Jerusalem at the time of Pope Damasus of blessed memory. And, indeed, in this matter I have mitigated the custom that had been adopted here from the Greeks.'

The letter should be read more in its context (see the edition of the letter in the MGH, which I inserted here, and the English translation as it was published in NPNF-212by Charles L. Feltoe), because the rumours of the Sicilian explain better, what certain contemporaries in Southern Italy thought about Gregory's reform.

He was not complaining that Gregory I introduced Byzantine allelouiaria into Roman practice, he was rather proud and angry enough to talk directly to the Pope about his hypocritical attitude to criticise their customs and to imitate them at the same time. In case of the "kyrie eleison", he was obviously wrong and misled by the use of Greek language (and an occasion for us, to find this Roman custom already present in the 6th century), but in case of the melismatic alleluia, he likely hit the nail on the head. The very beginning of the letter already made clear that Gregory was expecting the accusation.

It was James McKinnon who draw a connection between the compilation of the Liber pontificalis during the first half of the 6th century (see Jeffery 1984), and Gregory's answer to the accusation, that he had served himself of the Byzantine allelouiarion during his reform (1996, 230):

To paraphrase Gregory, he says that we know from Jerome's reply to Damasus (the pseudo-correspondence discussed above) that Rome followed the custom of Jerusalem in not singing 'alleluia' at Mass outside of Paschaltime. He denies having adopted that custom from the East (it was Damasus who did so); moreover, he has changed it by allowing 'alleluia' to be sung at Mass outside of Paschaltime.

According to McKinnon a trench separated him from Egon Wellesz (1954) and it was the decision, whether "diceretur" was negated or not (the MGH edition shared his part, but the apparatus testify also the unnegated form in some documents). In fact, the last quotation contains two different answers which do not really fit together. In the second part he confirmed, that the use of alleluia was expanded to the other segments of the temporal, while he answers in the first to the reproach, that Roman cantors had taken chant from the Byzantine tradition. Here he replied, that the Romans did follow the Hagiopolitan custom of alleluia singing since the time of Jerome, but under his time the same custom has been reduced.

Is the sense which had been found by the negation, "more plausible" than the interpretation of Egon Wellesz?

Gregory I's reply was certainly not less cryptic than the one of an oracle, so that even the omitted negation does hardly do any further harm. I guess that this is a kind of answer that some might give, if they are not willing to answer at all. I suppose that Gregory knew quite well, that his dialogue partner was talking about a reform which had expanded the use of melismatic alleluia singing. But, instead of confirming the accusation, he was talking about two different things at the same time, without explaining himself.

There had to come James McKinnon, who unmasked the oracle. (1) According to his interpretation, the first part was an allusion to the pseudo-correspondence between Pope Damasus, who told Jerome about the Hagiopolitan custom to sing all the psalms with alleluia during Paschaltime (not only those which are notified as alleluia-psalm by a certain psalter redaction). The subject here was the custom to conclude every stichos by an alleluia (alleluia psalmody, for example in a simple genre like communion). Hence, it was Pope Damasus and not him who introduced this practice. (Note that McKinnon also refers to Peter Jeffery's essay (1984), where he assumed that the two letters were faked some decades before Gregory's reform—between 2 compilations of the Liber pontificalis during the period of Pope Hormisdas (514-23) and Pope Vigilius (537-55).) It says nothing, if he really believed that the letters were authentic and that this practice already existed, since Latin became the liturgical language of the Roman rite, or if he just used them to authorize current liturgical customs, which he had mitigated. (2) When Gregory finally admitted, that the accusation of his gracious dialogue partner was right, he was really talking about the practice of melismatic alleluia, but his opponent would have hardly understood his answer.

During the 50s Egon Wellesz (1954) and Bruno Stäblein (see for instance his article "Alleluja" in the old MGG) started the discussion about Old Roman Chant, and they saw in Gregory's letter a hint, that Byzantine allelouiaria were imported during his reform as well as a hint that the first melismatic alleluia—a Roman custom which was mentioned in the church history by Sozomenos—, and another hint about the first import of an allelouiarion from the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. When I made the naive assumption that he was talking about Alleluia—Pascha nostrum, I was just following Bruno Stäblein's concept. But for now, I would like to postpone the question which alleluia (there are some candidates) was the Roman prototype and made this genre so important for its local liturgy (a question which still occupied James McKinnon, when he wrote his book during the late 90s).

Early psalmody and the abridged form of responsorial psalmody sung by a congregation

At the moment I would like to focus on the distinction between "alleluia psalmody" and "mass alleluia", the both things that Pope Gregory mixed together, when he tried to confuse his Sicilian antagonist. The funny fact is, that he did also confuse the readers today, who discuss after McKinnon's essay (1996) the topic, and the book (2000) still contained telling passages, why James McKinnon himself had a particular interest in this confusion.

I observe that scholars mix an ABA form of a a so-called "Mass alleluia" that they know from 10th-century chant manuscripts (as McKinnon did himself in his entry "alleluia" in the NGr) with a Carolingian concept of simple psalmody, when they talk about "alleluia psalmody". Even more absurd is the fact, that the tabu to discuss a possible Byzantine influence is connected with a chauvinistic and political concept, which Charlemagne once made out of "the Gregorian". On the other hand, James McKinnon's history of Roman liturgy uses Byzantinists' terms like "the imperial age", after Christianity had become a state religion until to the time of Justinian's gigantic Empire, the "dark ages", which is usually referred to two periods of the crisis of iconoclasm, and the different resolutions of this crisis, which are connected with several hymn reforms of the 7th and the 8th century, and several later reforms, which accompanied political history until the 13th century.

But Gregory's hypocrisy was quite innocent in comparison with Charlemagne's. His reference to St. Jerome and Pope Damasus and his ambitions around Rome as the only centre of Christianity were still occupied by the creation of a local Latin liturgy at Rome, which had to be compared with Alexandria, Carthage, Jerusalem, Antioch, Constantinople, Ravenna, and Milan. While Milan had a hymnodist like Ambrosius, and Constantinople Romanos Melodos, the Roman rite had just a few important representators of the psalmodist movement like St. Benedict, and a very talented papal secretary who was a poet in his Latin translation of the Greek texts, which had become the liturgical language at Rome. But the importance of the psalmodists' movement cannot be understand without the former liturgical history, during which the recitation of the canticles was far more important than the recitation of psalms. In the historical imagination of the Liber pontificalisthe decision of Pope Damasus was not simply a change of the ritual language from Greek to Latin, it was the change of the liturgy itself according to new contemporary concepts, i.e. the psalmodists' movement and their new form of monasticism, as it had been proclaimed by the rules of Benedict and Gregory of Nyssa.

But by the end of the 4th century, several cathedral rites like Jerusalem or Constantinople adapted to the new forms of an urban monasticism by the development of more representative and hybrid forms of a solistic psalmody (an overview of the recent research offers Svetlana Poliakova 2009, 31). The trend was to replace the singing of the urban community by a congregational practice of a professional choir, and this was the condition which led in this time to an abridged form of responsorial psalmody, when a whole psalm was reduced to two or four stichoi (see Troelsgård's entry "prokeimenon"). If it were four stichoi, the troparion was at least repeated twice or four times. The question, whether the refrain was allelouia, another psalmverse, "non-psalmic" (McKinnon's expression for a biblical text outside the psalter), or poetry outside the canonized texts like the trisagion (which was a kind of introit of the so-called "third antiphon" until 1400, at least at the Hagia Sophia of Thessaloniki) could be repeated twice or four times. On annual feasts it was probably not repeated in an identical way…

If we have in mind this development, I completely agree with Père Guilmard, when he writes about rhythm in Western plainchant: « Le vieux-romain, comme le grégorien, a une rythmique qui s'est développée à partir de la psalmodie et en référence à elle ». But the psalmody and its accentuation patterns were not the monotonic one which we know from Carolingian times, when the oktoechos had been introduced by Frankish cantors—according to their own design. Already Peter Wagner proposed that the oldest psalmody was rather that of the invitatory ("Super venite"), and like the more archaic forms as they appeared in Milanese and Byzantine psalmody, because these forms are much closer to the elaborations in responsorial chant. Τhere is a Greek term ἀντιφωνὸν which has nothing in common with the Latin name for the troparion. It was a subsection of the psalter used within the tradition of the cathedral rite, as it had been memorized by the congregation.

The Roman congregation under Pope Gregory the Great

If we read with this knowledge now Gregory's edict which is dated 5 July 595 (see the edition of MGH), we understand that a congregation was there even before the later foundation of the schola cantorum, whose singers had a great interest in the representation of the papal liturgy by its chant—to an extent that they even neglected the ritual acts of the ceremony. This source gives evidence that Rome, a few years after the destruction of the town by wars, the flood of the Tiber in 589 and a plague caused by it in 590, had obviously problems that not enough celebrants were available for the papal liturgy (similar problems are known from Constantinople, after it had been conquested by Western crusaders in 1201). Nevertheless the few celebrants left cared more about chant than about anything else, and as far as Gregory was not obliged to discipline them, the language of his later letter tells us that he did think about them with pride.

Both sources, the edict from 595 as well as the letter from 598, are very precious, because they contain admonitions, accusations, and even the response to it. Unlike a liturgical manuscript or papal letters without those intrigues, the sources tend to be rather pretentious, because they are more about what the celebrants and singers are supposed to do, but these sources also reveal what they really did instead, like any subjective report of travellers which are usually the more reliable sources in this respect.

When Pope Gregory I was accused, that he used Byzantine allelouiaria despite all his efforts to create a unique and distinct Roman liturgy—in particular distinct from the Greek tradition of the East Rome, the Sicilian touched a very delicate point. We have to touch it, when we will join the recent discussion of McKinnon's chronology concerning the "lateness of alleluia".



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