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Mozarabic chant

MOZARABIC CHANT  

The repertory of chant used in the Mozarabic (Visigothic) liturgy of the medieval Church in Spain. This chant style burgeoned and came to full bloom between 550 and 650 and was firmly fixed at the time of the Arab invasion (771). It is called Mozarabic because the term describes a Christian living under Arab or Islamic domination (711–1085), and because its principal MSS date from this period. The principal surviving musical codices of the Visigothic-Mozarabic liturgy are preserved in the cathedral of Toledo; in San Domingo Abbey, Silos; in San Millán Abbey, Cogolla; in the cathedral of León; and in the University of Santiago de Compostela. These codices, copied in the 10th and 11th centuries, contain an almost complete musical repertory of the Visigothic Church of Toledo that dates back to the 6th, 7th, and early 8th centuries. The most precious of them is the Antiphonary of León. According to some scholars, this is an early 10th-century copy of an original MS of King Wamba written for the Toledo parish of St. Leocadia in 672. It begins with the feast of St. Ascisclus (November 17) and contains the Office and the Mass for the entire ecclesiastical year.  

Notation. Mozarabic chant had its own musical notation, but the notation of these codices is illegible for the reason that there is not a single musical codex of the Mozarabic period that is copied upon lines of the musical staff. When in the 11th century the Gregorian codices without lines were transcribed into codices with lines, Spanish musicians did not do the same for their own melodies. As a consequence, the Visigothic-Mozrabic neumes are legible only to the extent of the number of their notes. There is no means of determining the relations of tonal height within the notes of a neume, nor its melodic connection with the preceding and following neumes. The melodic treasury incased within the neumes is undecipherable without the help of a later diastematic notation. Such notation was found for 20 or so of the actual melodies preserved. In 12 folios of the MS of the Liber Ordinum of the Monastery of San Millan an Aquitainian superimposed system was substituted for erased Mozarabic neumes. The comparison of these folios with the Mozarabic neumatic notation of the same pieces in the MS of the Liber Ordinum of the San Domingo monastery of Silos served as a key to decipher the existing melodies. These melodies show that Mozarabic chant was monodic and of a free rhythm and modality equal to that of Gregorian chant. They exemplify syllabic, neumatic, and melismatic styles.  

There are two classes of script in Mozarabic notation: the horizontal and the vertical. The horizontal script pertains exclusively to the codices of Toledo and to a very fragmentary Portuguese codex of Coimbra. In these codices the neumes incline to the right. The codex of Silos and the Antiphonary of León are in vertical scripts. Both the horizontal and vertical scripts originated, however, in the scriptoria of Toledo.  

Diffusion. Through the efforts of CHARLEMAGNE and the promulgation of the Lex Romana, France sacrificed her own liturgy and chant for the liturgy and chant of Rome. The effect of this edict in Spain paralleled the success of the reconquest. The Lex Romana did not triumph in Aragon until 1071 and became successful in Navarre, Castille, and Leon only in 1076. The Spanish Mozarabic rite was finally suppressed by Pope GREGORY VII in 1089, except for six parishes in Toledo where it was allowed to continue. Here it struggled along with much difficulty and became almost extinct until Cardinal XIMÉNES DE CISNEROS became archbishop of Toledo. He received a concession from Pope Julius II in 1508 to found the Mozarabic chapel of Corpus Christi in the cathedral church of Toledo. The service books edited by him include a missal in 1500 and a breviary in 1502. They preserve some Mozarabic melodies in an altered form of the older, non-diastematic sources.  

Bibliography: C. ROJO and G. PRADO, El canto mozárabe (Barcelona 1929). G. PRADO, ‘‘Mozarabic Melodics,’’ Speculum 3 (1928) 218–239. H. ANGLÈS, La música española (Barcelona 1941); P. WAGNER, ‘‘Der Mozarabische Kirchengesang,’’ Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kulturgeschichte Spaniens 1 (Spanische Forschungen der Görresgesellschaft 1; Münster 1928) 102–141. A. M. MUNDÓ, ‘‘La datación de los códices litúrgicos visigóticos toledanos,’’ Hispania sacra, 18 (1965), 1–25. C. W. BROCKETT, Antiphons, Responsories and Other Chants of the Mozarabic Rite (Brooklyn, NY, 1968). D. M. RANDEL, ‘‘Responsorial Psalmody in the Mozarabic Rite,’’ Etudes gregoriennes 10 (1969), 87–116. D. M. RANDEL The Responsorial Psalm Tones for the Mozarabic Office (Princeton, NJ, 1969). J. PINELL, ‘‘El problema de las dos tradiciones del antiguo rito hispánico,’’ Liturgia y música mozárabes [Toledo 1975] (Toledo, 1978), 3–44. M. C. DÍAZ Y DÍAZ, ‘‘Literary Aspects of the Visigothic Liturgy,’’ Visigothic Spain: New Approaches, ed. E. JAMES (Oxford, 1980), 61–76. D. M. RANDEL, ‘‘Antiphonal Psalmody in the Mozarabic Rite,’’ International Musicological Society: Congress Report 12 [Berkeley 1977], ed. D. HEARTZ and B. WADE (Kassel, 1981), 414–22. K. LEVY, ‘‘Old-Hispanic Chant in its European Context,’’ España en la música de occidente [Salamanca 1985], ed. E. CASARES RODICIO, I. FERNÁNDEZ DE LA CUESTA and J. LÓPEZCALO (Madrid, 1987), vol. 1, 3–14. M. HUGLO, ‘‘Recherches sur les tons psalmodiques de l’ancienne liturgie hispanique,’’ Revista de musicologia 16 (1993), 477–90. K. LEVY, ‘‘The Iberian Peninsula and the Formation of Early Western Chant,’’ Revista de musicologia 16 (1993), 435–7. D. M. RANDEL, ‘‘The Old Hispanic Rite as Evidence for the Earliest Forms of the Western Christian Liturgies,’’ Revista de musicologia 16 (1993), 491–6.  

[I. WORTMAN / EDS.]  

New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2003. Vol. 10. P. 41-42.

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