Thursday, October 20, 2005

Why Gregorian Chant SHOULD Be Sung

Found courtesy of the Recovering Choir Director, a medidation on the Introit from last Sunday (Tridentine Rite.) Just having sung this myself, I have to admit that these insights are worthwhile. Shoulda known the first one myself, drat it!

Si i-, two separate syllables, the vowel so tricky to make distinctly audible, both times. See. Glottal stop. Ee. And quickly, because this is only the beginning.

I tell the choir : this tiny detail is the beginning of our faults laid bare. The little stop we have to put there, to articulate both words, makes us stumble. We have to get through "Si i-" to reach the piercing arch of "iniquitates," our faults thrown high, too visible, too garish ; and then the suddenly soaring podatus of "Domine," the Lord, right there in the notes themselves, reaching higher than our sins. Beyond us.

And yet - Quia apud te propitiatio est, Deus Israel. Despite our faults, despite our climbing that falls so short of where we should be, where God wants us, He is forgiving, He is all forgiveness. The question in the first half of the Introït a panicked cry : the second half, a reassurance, the neumes descending gently. And then the Psalmodie : De profundis clamavi ... I call from the depths to Thee, O Lord, hear my prayer. It is the structure of the piece itself, the story of the world. All we ask is answered. All we sing, our need, is calmed.

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