Just gonna leave this here……..
Just gonna leave this here……..
One of the most important bishops of Rome and most influential writers of the Middle Ages, Gregory the First is one of only two popes (the other being Leo the First), to have been given the epithet “the Great.”
Perhaps best known for being credited with the compilation of the canon of what is now known (after him) as “Gregorian chant” – that is to say, monastic plainchant, for the Holy Eucharist (the Mass) and the Daily Office – as well as reforms to the Roman liturgy; although as this account notes,
“His role in the development of the Roman liturgy and its chant was considerable, though disputed. He certainly modified various minor features and composed a number of prayers which formed the nucleus of the Gregorian Sacramentary, though this work reached its final form after his death. Many prayers in the sacramentary, if not actually written by him, were inspired by his through and phraseology. Since the tenth century his name has been associated with ‘Gregorian’ chant: while the chant bearing his name arose from a later Carolingian synthesis of Gallican and Roman chant, he probably played a role in the gradual codification and adaptation of several preexisting forms of plainsong.”
Not only chant is known by his name: Gregory’s influence on the Roman liturgy is such that the traditional Roman Catholic Eucharistic canon is frequently known as the “Gregorian Canon,” and our Western Rite Orthodox brothers and sisters call the form of their liturgy based on it “the Liturgy of St. Gregory.”
His primary significance for Anglicans, however, lies in his role as “Apostle to the English”:
“Apparently convinced that the future of Christianity lay with monasticism and not with the declining Eastern Roman Empire, he hoped to lead a group of missionaries in taking the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxons in Britain, after seeing English children or youth on sale as slaves in the Roman market around the year 573. He is said to have remarked on their beauty as being like that of angels, whereupon he was told that they were in fact Angles – causing him to say, Non Angli, sed angeli: “Not Angles, but angels.” But this was not to be his ministry…
Nevertheless, “One of Gregory’s most notable achievements was the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He personally took the lead in the whole process, sending Augustine, prior of his own monastery of Saint Andrew’s on the Caelian Hill, and a number of fellow monks to southeastern Britain, to the Jutish kingdom of Kent, where they achieved within a few years the conversion of the people and of their king, Ethelbert. Gregory continue personally to guide the mission in matters that perplexed Augustine by sending a supporting group of missionaries, along with liturgical vessels, books, and vestments, in 601; and by writing to Ethelbert and his Christian queen, Bertha on various matters.
“The close relationship between Rome and the English Church was continued by Gregory’s successors, and in many ways the Church in England was closer to the papacy than the Church in Gaul was. The first Life of Gregory was written in England, and from the biographies written by the Venerable Bede, Aldhelm, and the anonymous biographer of Whitby come eulogies of Gregory as ‘the apostle of the English,’ ‘our father and apostle in Christ,’ and ‘he from whom we have received the Christian faith, he who will present the English people to the Lord on the Day of Judgment as their teacher and apostle.'”
The sacred and peaceful glory of Benedictine spirituality, as expressed at Vespers with the Benedictine nuns of Mary Queen of Apostles.
Three hours of what is to my mind the most glorious and holy form of sacred music ever composed: the Gregorian chant, other forms of plainsong, and medieval motets of the Age of Faith, when European Christendom was at its height, and maintained an essential unity which transcended the often bitter and violent bickering of rival kingdoms. The “Peace of God” in musical form!
If three hours of this celestial music is not enough for you, here is another excellent assortment, by the Tudor Consort:
Note that many of these are not in fact Gregorian chants, but polyphony. They are, nonetheless, both beautiful and holy – although not, to my mind, possessed of the simple and profound purity of true plainsong, particularly in the Gregorian mode.
This form of Christian chant – Gregorian chant – is, of course, of unquestionably Western provenance! As the notation on the linked YouTube page notes,
“Monks of the one of the Abbeys of the Solesmes Congregation sing this beautiful chant. The Te Deum is attributed to two Fathers and Doctors of the Church, St. Ambrose and St. Augustine, and is one the most majestic chants in the Liturgy of the Church. It is sung in traditional seminaries and monastic houses at the Divine Office and for Double feasts of the First Class, The Nativity, Easter, Corpus Christi, Epiphany, Pentecost and those which have an Octave. The solemn Te Deum is sung on all occasions of public [liturgical] rejoicing, in Traditional Catholic Churches.”
And in English translation, it is sung (or recited, in the Office of Morning Prayer) in not a few traditional Anglican churches, as well!
Nota Bene: The Abbey of Solesmes, under Dom Prosper Guéranger, was largely responsible for the rebirth and liturgical restoration of Gregorian Chant, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and remains the mother-house of a Benedictine community to this day (with several interruptions along the way!). For more information, check out this fascinating brief account of its history, or the Abbey’s own history page.
Here is the Te Deum in traditional English translation:
Te Deum laudamus.
WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
To thee all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein;
To thee Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy glory.
The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
The Father of an infinite Majesty;
Thine adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
THOU art the King of Glory, O Christ.
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the glory of the Father.
We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.
O LORD, save thy people, and bless thine heritage.
Govern them and lift them up for ever.
Day by day we magnify thee;
And we worship thy Name ever, world without end.
Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
O Lord, let thy mercy be upon us, as our trust is in thee.
O Lord, in thee have I trusted; let me never be confounded.
Here is an English-language plainsong (chant) version: