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Gallican rites, chants of


Chants of the ancient liturgies practiced in French Gaul from the beginning of the 5th century to the early part of the 9th century. Four important regions, each revolving around important churches and corresponding roughly to the old civil divisions made by the Romans in Gaul, established centers of their provincial rites. The regions of Narbonne and Aquitaine (with Narbonne and Toulouse as mother churches) had much in common with the Mozarabic liturgy and chant. The region of Lyons and Provence influenced the churches of Lyons, Autun, Vienne, and Arles. The churches of the west, center, and north came under the influence of Tours. Sharing a basic liturgy, each developed its own provincial rites, and perhaps its own particular chants.

Because of the royal edicts of unity these ancient liturgies and chants were suppressed in favor of the Roman liturgy and chant. The movement of suppression, begun by Pepin at the instigation of his cousin St. CHRODEGANG, fully ensured by the strong measures of Charlemagne, reached its consummation under Charles the Bald. Unfortunately for the preservations of Gallican chant, its suppression occurred at a time when neume notation was not widely used. No single musical MS of the Gallican liturgy has been preserved. Authentic examples of Gallican chant are those that have been absorbed into the Roman rite and enshrined in Gregorian MSS, especially those of the school of Aquitaine. The best examples of chants absorbed into the Roman rite are those incorporated in the Good Friday liturgy: the improperia, Crux fidelis, Pange lingua . . . certaminis, and Vexilla regis. Principal among the MSS is the Graduale written in the 11th century for the cathedral of Albi (Paris: Bibl. nat. lat. 776). This magnificent specimen of Aquitainian diastematic notation contains the Gregorian Mass repertory plus supplementary chants, tropes, proses, and some pieces taken from the Gallican and Mozarabic liturgy. It is from this source and from MSS originating at St. Martial of Limoges that extant transcriptions of Gallican chants, mostly from the Mass and Office, have been made. Thus in the Variae Preces of Solesmes are found Compline antiphons, Preces, and the antiphon Venite populi. The Solesmes Processionale monasticum contains the Hodie illuxit nobis for the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, the Hodie nobis beata illuxit for the feast of Epiphany, the Ascendit Christus for the feast of the Assumption. Still other examples are found in the Ordinaire des Saluts and the Histoire du chant liturgique à Paris of A. Gastoué.

The musical study of these absorptions and transcriptions—frequent cadences on ut; the use of si natural in a large number of cadences; the use of recitational pitches on mi and si; frequent intonations of ut-re-mi, utmi-sol; and a preference of si natural—indicates that Gallican chant is a dialect of its own, with characteristics of style, modality, and melodic development different from the Gregorian. Walafrid Strabo (d. 849) mentions that in his day the discerning cantor could still distinguish Gallican pieces in the Roman chant books (Patrologia Latina, ed. J. P. Migne, 114:956).

Bibliography: J. M. NEALE and G. H. FORBES, The Ancient Liturgies of the Gallican Church (Burntisland 1855–67). L. DUCHESNE, ‘‘Sur l’origine de la liturgie gallicane,’’ Revue d’histoire et de littérature religieuses 5 (1900) 31–47. A. GASTOUÉ, Histoire du chant liturgique à Paris, des origines à la fin des temps carolingiens (Paris 1904). A. WILMART, ‘‘L’âge et l’ordre des messes de Mone,’’ Revue bénédictine 28 (1911) 377–90. H. LIETZMANN, Ordo missae romanus et gallicanus (Bonn 1923). F. CABROL, ‘‘Les origines de la liturgie gallicane,’’ Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique 25 (1930) 951–62. A. GASTOUÉ, Le chant gallican (Grenoble 1939). J. QUASTEN, ‘‘Oriental Influence in the Gallican Liturgy,’’ Traditio 1 (1943) 55–73. W. S. PORTER, The Gallican Rite (London 1958). H. HUCKE, ‘‘Toward a New Historical View of Gregorian Chant,’’ Journal of the American Musicological Society (1980) 437–67. K. LEVY, ‘‘Toledo, Rome and the Legacy of Gaul,’’ Early Music History 4 (1984) 49–99. K. LEVY, ‘‘Charlemagne’s Archetype of Gregorian Chant,’’ Journal of the American Musicological Society 40 (1987) 1–31. K. LEVY, ‘‘Gallican Chant,’’ New Oxford History of Music 2 (1990) 93–101. J. CLAIRE, ‘‘Le cantatorium romain et le cantatorium gallican: etude comparée des premières formes de la psalmodie,’’ Orbis musicae 10 (1990–91) 50–86. J. MCKINNON, ‘‘The Eighth Century Frankish-Roman Communion Cycle,’’ Journal of the American Musicological Society 45 (1992) 179–227. J. MCKINNON, ‘‘Lector Chant versus Schola Chant: a Question of Historical Plausibility,’’ in Laborare fratres in unum: Festschrift László Dobszay zum 60. Geburtstag, ed. J. SZENDREI and D. HILEY (Berlin 1995) 201–11. Y. HEN, ‘‘Unity in Diversity: the Liturgy of Frankish Gaul before the Carolingians,’’ in Unity and Diversity in the Church, ed. R. N. SWANSON (Oxford 1996) 19–30. Y. HEN, Culture and Religion in Merovingian Gaul, A.D. 481–751 (Leiden 1995).


New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 6. P. 72-73.

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