Chapter 3 Lessons


The four pieces featured in Chapter 3 and the Anthology present suggest opportunities to look at the chants in original notation through digitized manuscripts on line.   A short lesson in the Primer for working with the Gradual Haec Dies as found in St. Gall 359 introduces the basic neumatic shapes of this notational tradition.  Listed below are the locations of the manuscripts found along with square notation for these four Mass chants in the Graduale Triplex and in volumes of Paléographie Musicale (see Primer).

As can be seen the page numbers given in the GT are for the pages in the PM and not in the manuscripts themselves; to find the actual chants, you need to either consult the PM, and look at the folio number, and then go to the online source, or learn how to use the sources.   I have provided the folio numbers for three of the chants, but left one – Viderunt — without the folio number, and we will locate it together as an exercise.   First, be sure you can find the three Easter chants online using the links below, and, if you have them, in the volumes of the PM.  Compare the notation, one Messine (Laon 239) and the other from the area around St. Gall.  Although there are many differences between the two notational styles, as can been seen from comparing the two examples of “Resurrexi,” for example, clearly this is the same piece.  You are confronting here the greatest mystery of Frankish chant: how did it happen that these same melodies were learned and transmitted before the mid-ninth century, and then were captured in a variety of notational “dialects”?  To work with the Laon MS, it might be easiest just to page through until you get to fol. 52r; the folio numbers are easy to read and located in the right corner of each page, on the left is no number as that is the recto side of the page.  When you find the folio, blow up the chant and compare it to the page from the Triplex in the primer. So many differences to observe!


3.1 RESURREXI: GT 196;  Laon 239, fol. 52r; PM X, p. 103.

      Paléographie musicale: les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican vol. X. (Solesmes, 1909)


You will need to type 108 in the number box at the bottom to find Easter and the introit “Resurrexi” in Laon 239. The website is not user-friendly, and several of the features were not operational in August, 2018.

and Einsiedeln 121, p. 206;  PM IV, p. 205

      Paléographie musicale: les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican vol. IV. (Solesmes, 1894)


3.2 VIDERUNT: Laon 239, 10r; PM X, 21 (as above); and St. Gall 359, begin p. 24… PM II, 40 (as below)

3.3 ALLELUIA: PASCHA NOSTRUM, GT 197-98; Laon 239, fol. 52r; PM X, p. 103 (as above) and St. Gall 359, 107; PM II, 107

      Paléographie musicale: les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican 2nd ser., vol. II (Solesmes, 1924)


HAEC DIES: GT 196-197; Laon 239, fol. 52r; PM X, p. 103 (as above); St. Gall 359, p.107; fol. PM II, p. 107 (as above)



You will have had the practice of finding select Easter chants using the links above, which take you to a specific page in a graduale (Laon 239 and Einsiedeln 121 ) or a cantorium (St. Gall 359) and to facsimiles of the these sources in the PM; from this work you know something of how the pages of an early chant book are set up, with the pieces following in the order in which they are sung, beginning with the Introit (which will only be supplied with an incipit in a cantatorium).  The next stage is to begin to work with a manuscript when no one gives you the folio number…harder, but more satisfying, and tells you more about medieval music and its context than anything you can read in a book.  So we are going to find “Viderunt” using St. Gall 359, a cantatorium, giving the music for the soloist.  This piece is for Christmas, which is close to the beginning of the church year, coming after the four-week season of Advent, that just precedes it.  I gave you the folio for the piece in Laon 239, and you can see that indeed, it falls near the beginning of the manuscript.

If you have the Liber Usualis or the Graduale Triplex at hand (see the Primer for introductions to both these books), you will have a crutch.  Ready?!   Open the GT to the beginning, Tempus Advent. This is the Advent season, those four weeks just before Christmas.  The first chant you see in it is “Ad te levavi,” the introit for the first Sunday of Advent, and a very famous chant as it characteristically opens books for the Mass liturgy.  Let’s test that out with St. Gall 359: go to the manuscript and open it up, and voila…nothing you have ever seen before!  That is because St. Gall 359, like so many medieval sources, especially the oldest ones, has been added to over the centuries or is part of a group of manuscript fascicles bound together.  If you click on the description provided, you will see that there is a group of pages dating from between the 10th and 13th centuries, containing hymns and Alleluias; the cantatorium itself begins on page 24:

Click on that or scroll to it, as you wish, and there you see a formal opening to the cantatorium.   In large rustic capitals (a script style used for headings in the Carolingian period) you find the following: “Sunday of the Advent of the Lord, the station at St. Andrew’s after the Manger (located at St. Mary Major), the antiphon at the introit.”  The headings for many Carolingian liturgical books are borrowed from what was understood as Roman practice. So they reference the stational liturgy at Rome, a liturgy that travelled from church to church; here celebrated (or at least started) at a church dedicated to St. Andrew and near to the church of St. Mary Mary, where the crib was located.

The next page features the giant, decorated A that opens so many mass book, the A for “Ad te levavi.”  With the GT to help you, you can page along through the book, identify some of the chants.  Notice that “responsorium graduale” is the heading for the gradual;  Alleluia for the Mass alleluia.  Only these two chants have music, the Introit, the Offertory, and the Communion get textual incipits only.   Right away on p. 26 you find a the feast for St. Lucy (Dec. 13) because the temporale and sanctorale are mixed in most early liturgical books (see the Primer for introductions to these terms and to the parts of the Mass liturgy).   On page 27, you find Dominica II (second Sunday of Advent) which corresponds to Hebdomada Seconda Adventus in the GT, p. 18.  All the music for the four Sundays are put in a group, and then music for weekdays in Advent begins…so on p. 28, for example, you find Feria IIII, which is Wednesday, but corresponds to Monday (Feria II) , in the GT, p. 24.  Medieval books and modern chant books have many common elements, but often different arrangements, and of course, medieval books themselves are endlessly varied.

What you have in St. Gall 359 at this point is Ember week of Advent, an especially solemn and penitential week, and there was once for each quarter.  You can find these in pre-Vatican two modern books, but Ember days have disappeared from contemporary use.  Notice how elaborate Saturday is in this week (Sabbato), for example, going on for many pages (up to p. 36), and including the song of the three boys in the Fiery Furnace, which is what all those Benedicite’s are (see especially Dan. 3, 57-88 and 56 in the Bible).   At last we arrive at Dominica IIII, the fourth Sunday in Advent, and we know that Christmas is nigh.  And indeed, on page 37, we find the Mass at Cock’s crow (in Galli cantu), the first of three masses of Christmas (did you think this would be easy?), the midnight mass; this is followed beginning at the very bottom of  p. 38 with the Mass In primo Diluculo  (in early dawn), and if you compare to the GT 44, you will see the introit is the same piece.  There is one Christmas Mass left to find and you must find it, and see what the gradual is for that Mass.