The Old-Roman Practice of Alleluia singing

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 I (422-432). Reinterpreting a Passage in the ‘Liber Pontificalis’.” 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 Mass Proper. 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 Praxis in Russia During the Studite Period”. PhD, Lissabon: Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

You need to be a member of Musicologie Médiévale to add comments!

Join Musicologie Médiévale


  • Cher Oliver,

    Je ne puis répondre maintenant, mais je lis votre texte avec intérêt.

    Le maniement du site n'est pas facile, et je n'arrive pas à vous inscrire parmi mes amis/

  • Cher Père Jacques-Marie Guilmard

    Pardonnez-moi, si ce n'est pas toujours possible de répondre immédiatement.

    Je vous comprends bien, et normalement je laisse les contredictions des autres chez les autres et je prefère de faire les miennes. Mais vous avez vu, quand je parlait dans la manière la plus claire et simple, on n'est pas content et on me demande, si j'ai lu James McKinnon… :)

    D'un autre point de vue, j'aime bien l'attitude loyale des lecteurs du livre de James McKinnon. Et je suis sûr que mes explications sur le niveau distingué de sa raisonnement aident finalement à suivre la discussion de la chronologie qu'il a fait concernant la genèse du répertoire des alleluias romains. On va voire…

    Concernant les sources autour de Grégoire le Grand, je n'ai aucune raison de me plaindre, mais il me semble qu'il a caché quelque chose en face à l'agent provocateur, mais pas en face à Jean de Syracuse qu'il a adressé dans sa lettre. En générale comme Pape, il était plus un type pragmatique qu'un type réformateur comme homme politique et diplomatique, et je ne suis pas sûr que ce type serait vraiment accepté chez quelques collègues—même comme imagination historique.

    The 4 Phases in the Compositional Planning of Alleluia

    Here, I would like to continue with the discussion of James McKinnon's division of a time-span between the 5th and the 11th century into four phases, during which the Roman alleluia had been developed in the sense, that a sanctoral and a temporal cycle with clear assignments was created and had been established. So a history of 600 years has finally to be finished as the liturgical reform of reform papacy, which could not sooner be realized as exactly in the time, when the Norman conquest of Southern Italy was accepted by the religious authorities? Quite a long time to realize a compositional planning!

    The very limited repertoire of 50 Old Roman alleluias and unclear assignments for the second half of the liturgical year, as they were mentioned by Willi Apel are the main argument for McKinnon's linear and teleologic model of historiography, and the reason why I was asked about the Mass Antiphonaries (Luca Ricossa quoted Willi Apel and for Daniel Saulnier's presentation of Carolingian liturgy the alleluia is out of question, if we believe Richard Llewellyn).

    Let us study the four phases according to McKinnon's characterisation and description (2000, 274-279).

    1) The Alleluia Prototype and Gregory's Reform

    The early pre-schola phase of alleluia-singing is between the beginning of responsorial psalmody (the introduction of the first Easter alleluia during the early 5th century), the foundation of the Schola cantorum, until 680, before the import of Byzantine allelouiaria had taken place.

    He characterizes the first phase as follows—before Gregory's reform (2000, 274):

    When the singing of a responsorial psalm during the Fore-Mass became a regular feature of the Roman liturgy, presumably during the earlier fifth century, the Paschaltime practice was probably similar to that observed a few decades earlier in Augustine's North African church. Psalm 117, Confitemini domino, was sung at the Easter vigil, preceded by the acclamation alleluia and followed by the brief Laudate dominum, and the same psalm was sung Easter Sunday morning and throughout the week with the response Haec dies.

    So this is his idea about the first alleluiain the Easter Vigil. With respect to Jefferey's essay (1984), he doubts that there had been any import from Jerusalem to western liturgies before the 6th century (2000, 274-275):

    By a century or two later in the East the regular practice, first observed in early-fifth-century Jerusalem, was to sing two responsorial psalms in the Fore-Mass, the second of which always employed alleluia as response, even if the psalm was not one of the twenty alleluia-psalms. The custom failed to make its way immediately to the West, owing no doubt to the breakdown of communications attendant upon the collapse of the western empire.

    I am not sure that this hypothesis based on McKinnon's knowledge of political history is true. Recent research has confirmed that this was a trend which can be observed in different cathedral rites like Milan and Constantinople as well. Despite of the well-known effect of pilgrimage, this does not necessarily prove a Hagiopolitan influence, it can also have developed in different places at the same time. But note that Ravenna and Benevento also developed a local tradition to celebrate Easter vigil 24 hours earlier than in Rome an Carthage, the ceremony for collective baptism had been held for the vigil of Holy Saturday.

    Indeed also in McKinnon's later interpretation, Gregory's reform extended the use of melismatic alleluia (2000, 275):

    In the course of time at Rome, while the original melody of the Easter vigil alleluia was retained, a number of others were developed for use during the time extending from the octave of Easter to the end of Pentecost week. Those melodies, which have may have their roots in antiquity, eventually acquired melismatic extensions, either at the hands of the schola or, just as likely, already as sung by the pre-schola clergy. The Ostende and Excita melodies are likely candidates to be numbered among these early Roman alleluias, sung as they are with the three chants—Lauda anima, Lauda Hierusalem and Laudate pueri—that utilize alleluia-psalms for their verses and that figure prominently among the alleluias sung on ordinary Sundays and ferias of Paschaltime.

    2) The Byzantine Influence

    The second phase is defined as the phase of the Byzantine influence (2000, 275-276):

    Thus there was very likely a musically developed alleluia, even if one of limited usage, at the time of the Byzantine influence, the period I would characterize as the second phase in the early history of the Roman alleluia. The essential feature of that influence, which was overwhelming and all-pervasive, was the adoption of the Byzantine format of two responsorial chants of the Fore-Mass, the second of which was an alleluia; in effect it meant the addition of an alleluia to virtually every festal date in the calendar. Outside of Paschaltime it resulted in the standard pattern of gradual and alleluia, while during Paschaltime it resulted in the pattern of the gradual Haec dies plus alleluia for Easter week and of two alleluias for the remainder of the season. A massive increase in repertory was immediately required, a challenge that could be met only with limited success by the Romans, coming as late as it did in the development of the Mass Proper. Judging by the condition of the repertory, I would imagine it to have taken place after much of the work on both the Advent Project and Sanctorale Project was completed, perhaps in the 680s, the time of musician popes, Leo II, Benedict II and Sergius I.

    And as a reader of Thodberg, he did also mention the Roman custom of a vesper tone, as it has been codified in the ordo romano XXVII that the a particular Vesper was held during the Easter Week at the Lateran Church (see table 3 in the section "Roman Easter Week Vesper", NGr). Concerning this practice, he mentioned in the "Advent Project" the particular influence of the Constantinopolitan echos plagios tou protou allelouiarion (2000, 276):

    It [O kyrios] contributed, moreover, the melody for the alleluia used with the Easter vesper tone, and quite probably the vesper tone melody itself is derived from its verse. The virtual omnipresence of this single chant, all other considerations aside, is enough to demonstrate that the Byzantine alleluia was present at the beginning of this second and most decisive phase in the history of the Roman alleluia (that is, the move to dual responsorial chants). I find much plausibility, indeed, in Bernard's contention [(1996)] that Dominus regnavit was the original Easter Sunday alleluia, later replaced with the nonpsalmic Pascha nostrum (1 Cor. 5.7-8).

    It should be mentioned here that the Latin translation of the Greek "Mass alleluia" O kyrios is Dominus regnavit, which uses the nearly the same alleluia refrain, but transposed from D on G (McKinnon's observation, not mine).

    3) The Non-Psalmic Alleluia Verse

    With the composition of "Alleluia. Pascha nostrum", we are already in McKinnon's third phase which is still part of the pre-Carolingian Schola cantorum after Pope Sergius I, one of the Greek Popes who were responsible for the Byzantine influence. Although it is evident, that the fourth and last phase is not evident in the early collections of Frankish Mass Antiphonaries, as it had been mentioned by Willi Apel and by Daniel Saulnier (2000, 276):

    Nonpsalmic alleluia verse, in fact, might be taken as one of the characteristics of a third phase of Roman alleluia production, the Roman effort to complete an adequate repertory for annual temporal and sanctoral cycles after the phase of Byzantine absorption was exhausted. Byzantine alleluiarion texts are exclusively psalmic (with the exception of three derived from the Christmastime canticles of Luke's gospel), and we must assume that Roman alleluias from the time of Byzantine absorption also utilized psalmic verses, several of them, indeed, inspired by Byzantine texts. Te decet hymnus (Ps 64.2) and Venite exultemus (Ps 94.1) are among prime candidates for inclusion in this group. They stand out for their partially shared melodies, their Byzantine textual concordances, their use in Easter week vespers and their prominence in the Roman temporale. Preoccupemus (Ps 94.2), Adorabo (Ps 137.2), Jubilate deo (Ps 65.1) and Confitebor tibi (Ps 137.1) are among other temporal chants that share at least some of these traits.

    Why this third phase, during which non-psalmic verses entered psalmody? As far as Byzantine practice is concerned, it can hardly provide an argument that only psalms were recited between the refrains, the older practice of the recitation of canticles or biblical odes was still continued, while homiletic poetry developed its own forms of recitation which paid a similar attention to their text than to the biblical recitation. Concerning the text of the refrain, they were far more poetic creations than compilations and paraphrases of biblical passages which was probably the reason, why these genres became the main subject of melismatic elaboration without the former practice of the psalmodic recitation of verses.

    4) The Composition of the Second Half of the Liturgical Year

    The fourth and last phase is that of a more or less corporate realization of the genre "Mass alleluia". The composition of the sanctoral cycle, as it can be found in the Old Roman graduals, but also the creation of a post-Pentecostal sequence as they appear in 10th-century Frankish and 11th-century Italian manuscripts in connection with different reforms, came long after the written transmission of early Mass Antiphonaries (2000, 278-279):

    That most of the alleluia sanctorale was assigned after the transmission raises the subject of a fourth and final phase in the early history of the Roman alleluia, one undertaken to complete work on the genre after the redaction of the Mass antiphoners involved in the transmission. The demonstrable portion of this activity is that remarkable creation of a post-Pentecostal sequence, a project requiring the addition of eight (or at least seven) new chants to the existing repertory, all but two of them using the Excita melody. I would guess that the remainder of the Christmas and Easter season alleluias (those beyond the chants assigned to the fifteenth favored dates discussed above) were given fixed assignments at the same time, and perhaps the sanctoral alleluias as well (they are, as will be recalled from chapter seven, stable within the three Roman graduals).

    At least this was James McKinnon's explanation, why the genre of Mass alleluia and the later sequences and prosulae had become a pool of creativity for various local cantors until the Cluniac reforms of the 11th century, and the reforms of Montecassino and Benevento which must have provoked the late written transmission at Milan and Rome.

    The Problem of the Byzantine Influence and of McKinnon's Method

    The problem for a lot of scholars of Western plainchant, not only of James McKinnon, was the coincidence between Gregory's letter, as it had been interpreted by Egon Wellesz (1954) and the fact that Byzantinists had much more interest in the study of the late Old Roman graduals.

    They had their own reasons. First, the chant of the famous cathedral rite of Constantinople appeared very late in the musical notation of monastic chant books (since the 12th century) and they were transcribed into (the sticheraric) Round notation since the 13th century, not into the Constantinopolitan Kontakarion notation as it can by found in the 14th-century Kastoria manuscript (the 12th-century Slavic manuscripts the Byzantine heritage appeared already in a fully developed own notation system, which is even hardly understood by experts). Second, even if we read the Round notation, we do not know anything about the asmatic and psaltic method of doing the thesis of the melos. Third, the alleluia repertory in Old Roman graduals, not only three Greek examples transliterated into Latin, show remarkable coincidences with the allelouiaria written in the Kontakaria, so that it seemed to be possible to learn this method by the Roman cantors of the 12th and 13th century (not the most competent transcriptors, but better than no transcription at all).

    It was probably this coincidence which tempted Christian Thodberg to use the title "Der byzantinische Alleluiarionzyklus" (1966), but in fact, it is rather a useful manual for the study Kontakaria manuscripts. It has a long list of manuscripts and its signatures which classifies them, a catalogue not only of the allelouiaria, but of the prokeimena and kontakia including the liturgical assignment of these cycles. What is not so practical that these list are not all collected in an appendix, but somewhere within the book, so that we need several sheets of paper as bookmarks, because we have two switch between 5 catalogues, while we study a kontakarion.

    Because the Round notation like its preceding paleo-Byzantine Coislin types belong to the notation system of the sticherarion, it classifies the melodies according to the Hagiopolitan oktoechos, not according to the sixteen echoi of the Constantinopolitan cathedral rite, while the Slavic notation uses 12 medial signatures which readers today did not succeed to understand. Nevertheless, unlike the Frankish tonaries the Hagiopolitan oktoechos works very well, if we try to classify the chant of the Old Roman repertory.

    The typical mistakes of Western scholars, when they study Kontakaria, are:

    1. they read the phonic neumes as "the melody" (μέλος) and medial intonations or signatures as cadential degrees with respect to the main signature (in fact the melos which is not notated, switches to another echos, the only exception is the very rare use of medial signatures in heirmologia, but most of them do not use them at all);
    2. they do not understand that a psaltikon or kontakarion does not contain any rubrics (which have to be read in the typikon) and only the soloistic parts of whatever chant. So the allelouia troparion is nothing more than the intonation of a soloist who replaces one of the two choirs, while the asmatikon has the parts of the domestikos in red ink (the medial intonation), and those of the choir in black ink. If there are many medial intonations, then the first means the domestikos followed by the right choir, the second the lampadarios followed by the left choir.
    3. nevertheless, the assumption that there is no jubilus is anyway right, because the word allelouia has five syllables spelled A—I—U—I—A, but the last has no accent and therefore never the longest melismata.
    4. some of the apodermai (fermate) in the asmatika might indicate the insertion of a kratema by the leader of the choir, which is an insertion of an improvisation using abstract syllables distinct from the chant text. So far nobody has thought about the possibility, if this practice which was already described by Augustinus as "iubilatio", did not already exist centuries before it became visible in written transmission (not before the 14th century in Byzantine notation). There is no direct relation between jubilus and iubilatio, as Amalar of Metz associated it, for the simple reason that the jubilus does not change the syllable.
    5. their classification of melody types makes no use of the correspondence between the convention to notate the "allelouia" troparion in an appendix of the Kontakarion, separated from the verse, and the Old Roman convention of writing these melodic stereotypes in an abbreviated form "A E U A". So far nobody, except Marcel Pérès and Luca Ricossa, has commented on the possibility that this convention is not only an abbreviation of the text, but also of the chant.

    What strikes me is the fact that James McKinnon is so occupied with the Byzantine influence, that it makes up his division into four phases. He could as well find criteria which really belong to the history of the Roman rite, like the early period, when the liturgical language was Greek, the "imperial age", when Pope Damasus and Jerome introduced Latin and the urban monastic practice of psalms, the later establishment of a congregation and a professional choir, the reform of Gregory I, the foundation of the Schola cantorum and, if you like, the "Advent Project", etc.

    I wondered why. Reading his book, I found al least an answer, why it was so important for him to postpone the period of Byzantine influence (2000, 260):

    Whatever actually did take place, there are a number of general considerations that are virtually beyond dispute: the Byzantine influence on the Roman alleluia was of central importance; it did not, however, involve a document providing Byzantine liturgical assignments; it worked its effect within the context of a highly developed Roman musical culture; and it took place, as will be argued in the remainder of this chapter, at an early stage in the development of the alleluia, but a late stage in the development of the Mass Proper as a whole.

    On the one hand, he tends to reduce the Byzantine influence to three Greek alleuias, on the other hand, he writes about a massive influence (2000, 279):

    There was very likely a small repertory of Roman alleluias before the period of Byzantine influence, including the Easter vigil alleluia and a number of chants with melodies consisting of the standard acclamation and jubilus, sung with verses taken from alleluia-psalms. The Byzantine influence, when it made itself felt, was massive, bringing with it both a fundamental change in the structure of the Roman Fore-Mass (the adoption of a second responsorial chant) and the supplying of a substantial repertory of melodies and especially texts. The Roman response of this influence involved the provision of many additional chants, making full use of the three melody types and introducing nonpsalmic verses into the repertory. The period of Byzantine influence and Roman response was short-lived and came late in the development of the Roman Mass Proper, overlapping apparantly with the later stages of the Advent Project and the project to create an adequate sanctorale.

    In this summary of the four phases, it was important to find a phase of an early development which established Roman alleluia singing before the Byzantine influence, and a following which describes also the work of cantors outside Rome as part of the Advent Project, which solved compositional problems, after the possibilities of Byzantine chant had been "exhausted".

    I have another point of view as the one, that the extension of alleluia went so far. This expectation requires a certain fixation by an analytic kind of written transmission, that the quantity of alleluia chant (about 50) was no longer enough. In my opinion, it was enough for the kontakarion, it was enough for Roman and as well as for Frankish cantors of the 8th century, so not incomplete at all.

    The second coincidence between allelouiarion and Old Roman alleluia is that there are no tritus compositions.

    Maybe it was the analytic way of writing down these melodies (unknown to Byzantine psaltes) which created a need for more compositions—but composition in the sense of an interaction between a detailed fixation (which had only later existed by the troping of the elaborated melodies in the time of Notker), as a fixation by a detailed notation system (as some colleagues like to imagine it), it did not earlier exist than since the end of the 10th century (according to the recent re-datation). I have to admit that this expectation is convincing, if we want to understand the particular importance of responsorial alleluia in Roman and Roman-Frankish Chant.

    Roman-Frankish Chant instead of Old Roman Chant

    When I discussed McKinnon's interpretation of Gregory's letter so much in detail, my motivation was to explain the three parts of Andreas Pfisterer's alleluia study (2008) which is deeply influenced by McKinnon's ideas. I met him personally twice on a biennal Music-Byzantinist symposium at Vienna which he likes to join in search of a dialogue with researchers of Eastern Chant. In 2006 we discussed his comparative study of psalmody, and in 2008 he compared the Byzantine, Milanese, the Old Roman Greek version, and the "Gregorian" (presented in transcription) mass alleluia of ps. 92.1 (Ὁ κύριος ἐβασίλευσεν, εύπρέπειαν ἐνεδύσατο / Dominus regnavit decore) of the Septuaginta, according to Philippe Bernard (1996) the famous Roman Easter prototype.

    Without any doubt, he has been always very convinced by James McKinnon's ideas, and his re-examination of McKinnon's Preface led him to the decision to study both things, which were once mixed together by Gregory I in his reply to the Sicilian: (I) "alleluia psalmody": archaic forms of psalmody instead of the Carolingian model of simple psalmody (2008, 55-62), (II) "alleluia": the melismatic elaboration of short responsorial psalmody which he had unfortunately reduced to a discussion of the precantor's intonation (2008, 62-66) and (III) the very interesting discussion of the outstanding role of "Alleluia—Confitemini" with respect to Kenneth Levy's study of the Neophyte's chant (1970) and its particular melos according to Jean Claire's classification of early responsorial psalmody (2008, 66-68).

    The advantage of Pfisterer's approach is a more comparative focus on Milanese, Old-Beneventan, Byzantine, and "Roman Chant". The discussion of the Old Roman graduals was radically replaced by a discussion of Roman-Frankish sources (2008, 56):

    I cite here and in the following only the Romano-Frankish standard version of the Roman pieces, since it is my view that this version is much closer to the original Roman chant than the so-called 'Old Roman' chant transmitted in eleventh- and twelfth-century manuscripts from Rome itself.

    And in the second part which discusses melismatic alleluia chant, he even criticises James McKinnon that he had studied them—in the latter's discussion this was hardly to avoid (2008, 63):

    McKinnon based his reconstruction of the Roman repertory mainly on the so-called 'Old Roman' manuscripts, which I do not think to be sufficiently trustworthy in this respect.

    Although it would have been worth to explain this view to the readers of his essay, there is just one short note at the first quotation, which mentions his doctoral thesis (2002) without specifying a certain part, where he discussed recent publications with respect to Old Roman graduals. As his reader I have the privilege, that I once read his doctoral thesis as well, and despite the fact, that I appreciate it as an overview of the debates about transmission and as an overview of the Roman-Frankish and Roman sources, I am neither convinced by a comparative focus which still polarizes the Roman with the pool of "the Gregorian", nor by his point of view that the 'Old Roman' is a Frankish redaction. This was the reason, why I also discussed here Kenneth Levy's recent essays which he could not have read, when he published his book. Nevertheless, he could have mentioned them in his later essay in 2008 and I am still very interested in his point of view concerning them.

    Some might regard his refuse to study Old Roman graduals as a weakness, but I think that this is exactly the point, where I find his study interesting, because it does not change the results (2008, 65)—and who really miss a comparison with Old Roman sources, I recommend his publications in the proceedings of Vienna. The real weakness is another one, it is the mistake no. 2: a comparison of different intonation formulas might always find a similarity between different traditions, in its quality this comparison (how interesting its points of reference might be) does not say very much.

    Another Chronology in the History of Early Roman Chant

    The most precious conclusion is one that we can read in the note 46 of his essay (2008, 67):

    The date of that introduction of the Alleluia of the Mass is contentious. The traditional view sees Gregory's famous letter of 598 (Registrum 9.26) as the concluding step of that introduction (e.g., Jacques Froger, 'L'Alleluia dans l'usage Romain et la réforme de saint Grégoire', Ephemerides liturgicae, 62 (1948), 6-48). James McKinnon challenged this view ('Preface'), but his late dating of the Alleluia is a necessary consequence of his chronology of the Roman Mass proper in general. His starting point was the discrepancy between the chant books implying a 'late' date of introduction (in relation to the other parts of the Mass proper) and the 'early' testimony in Gregory's letter. If one accepts my dating of the Mass proper to the fifth/sixth centuries (Pfisterer, 'James McKinnon'), Gregory is in fact 'late' and the discrepancy disappears.

    I agree with him, also because current research has confirmed it (the essay Frøyshov 2007 can be downloaded and read by everyone), and I would also propose that the period of a Byzantine influence could already have been in Gregory's time.

    In this case the difference between Roman-Frankish graduals and the later Old Roman graduals become a qualitative one and I hope that future research can describe it less deficiently as it has been done so far (in this respect Kenneth Levy's stereotypes idiomelic versus formulaic are not even "a new look" in comparison with Bruno Stäblein's in the 50s, but my problem is less the formal classification than the aesthetic judgement based on the unawareness of the fundamental function that formulas always have had in modal music traditions until today).

  • Cher Oliver,

    Merci pour votre réponse au Père Nicolás Despósito. Le sujet que vous avez traité m’intéresse depuis longtemps. Je suis content que vous l’ayez étudiée à nouveau à fond, mais l’affaire est très compliquée, et j’ai du mal à suivre votre pensée.

    Il y a

         - plusieurs documents anciens (pseudo-correspondance entre Damase et Jérôme, saint Grégoire et son décret (en date du 5 juillet 595), et sa lettre à l'évêque Jean de Syracuse),

         - les auteurs de ces documents ont caché leur pensée,

         - enfin, les chercheurs récents ont changé d’opinion sur ces documents et leur contenu.

    Ne pourriez-vous pas donner le résultat de vos réflexions dans un exposé positif et logique, en laissant de côté les variations des chercheurs contemporains ?

                                                                                          * *

    Je reviens sur la rythmique des chants romain et grégorien. Lorsque les chantres de Rome ont accueilli des textes de chant venus d’Orient ou d’Espagne, ils les ont chantés et rythmés selon l’esthétique en usage à Rome, et ils n’ont pas adopté l’esthétique byzantine ou wisigothique. C’est encore le cas aujourd’hui, où toutes les langues du monde accueillent des mots étrangers, mais en les prononçant selon l’usage local, et non pas selon l’usage originel. J’ai entendu le pianiste Alexandre Braïlovski prononcer son nom selon toutes les prononciations possibles : russe, française, anglaise, espagnole, etc. Ainsi, l’origine première des pièces de chant utilisées par le grégorien ou par le vieux-romain a une influence moins décisive que pourrait le penser.

  • 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".

  • 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?

    Psautier trilingue (Palermo 1132-1153) en facsimilé à l'internet
    London, British Library, ms. Harley 5786 The Psalms, in parallel Greek, Latin and Ara…
  • 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.

  • 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.

    These – Titre
  • 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 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.

  • 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 :

    9126745258?profile=originalSt. 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.

    Le répons Magi veniunt ab Oriente
    Il est curieux de constater dans ce répons, qu'au passage et venimus adorare , GREG omet le cum muneribus de ROM:           La tradition GREG don…
This reply was deleted.