About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“There are no hymns, in this sense, till the fourth century; they were not admitted to the Roman office till the twelfth. No Eastern rite to this day knows this kind of hymn. Indeed, in our Roman rite we still have the archaic offices of the last days of Holy Week and of the Easter octave, which—just because they are archaic—have no hymns.”
— Adrian Fortescue (25 March 1916)

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Ascension • A Gorgeous Illumination
published 16 May 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

ONCE ASKED THE PRIEST who taught me Gregorian chant what his favorite 1 chant was. He replied, “I think the Ascension Introit, because the melody is so incredible. I can almost see the Apostles, standing there gazing into Heaven.”

Here is that Introit as it appears in a manuscript (circa 1385AD):

764 Ascension Manuscript


By the way, my teacher had two teachers. One drilled the Introits into the seminarians over and over, until they began to hate them. The other had a different theory: “You pay more attention to singing if you’re just a little bit nervous, a little bit unsure of the music.” Both were good teachers—according to this priest—and because of the first he has almost every single Introit memorized five decades later. However, the second teacher made a valid point I often employ as a choirmaster…



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   Had I read with understanding the famous article by David J. Hughes about “favorite hymns” for Mass, I might not have asked this question. David makes the point that Gregorian chant is perfect for different liturgical “moments”—we usually don’t have a favorite piece.