A Brief History of Catholic Church Music

A Brief History of Catholic Church Music

  • “From the beginning of recorded time, it has been man’s instinct to raise his voice in praise and supplication to a higher power.”
  • there are six basic rhythmic modes that were used for Gregorian Chant at Mass
  • Gregorian Chant reached a peak in the late medieval period
    • some composers began to add a second voice to chant rather than just using single-line chant, this is called counterpoint
    • the demand for harmony led to the creation of instruments that could produce multiple sounds
  • the organ became the ideal instrument form music at Mass
    • polyphonic
    • variety of soul and large tonal capacity
  • Baroque — the Church employed composers such as Bach, Haydn, and Handel to  compose the Masses, composed beautiful and elaborate Masses that are performed today
  • the present style of chant was developed by the Benedictine Abbey of Solemnes, France
    • freer and more flowing movement of the latin words
    • accepted at Vatican II
  • the Enlightenment and Modernism led to the degradation of the Traditional Mass
  • Pope Benedict XVI wrote Summorum Potificum which restored the “Mass of All Ages”
A Brief History of Catholic Church Music

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