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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"Oh, what sighs I uttered, what tears I shed, to mingle with the waters of the torrent, while I chanted to Thee, O my God, the psalms of Holy Church in the Office of the Dead!"
— Isaac Jogues, upon finding Goupil's corpse (1642)

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“Morae Vocis” acc. to the Vatican Edition
published 22 February 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

HE PAUCITY of melismatic morae found in the Vatican Edition KYRIALE is stunning. However, one notable exception is Kyrie V (SEE BELOW). The Solesmes editions were always in violation of Church law—I know this will shock some people—because they altered the rhythm of the official edition. Even as late as 1958, after Solesmes Abbey had been the official Vatican editor of the chant for several decades, the Vatican insisted:

The signs, called rhythmica, which have been privately introduced into Gregorian chant, are permitted, provided that the force and meaning of the notes found in the Vatican books of liturgical chant are preserved.
§59 “De Musica Sacra” (3 September 1958)


Compare Kyrie V in various editions and you’ll see how Solesmes alters the mora vocis clearly indicated by the Vatican Edition. Perhaps they simply couldn’t bring themselves to abandon the rhythm of manuscripts like this one:

344 melismatic morae


The Solesmes rhythmic theories were called by Peter Wagner an “untraditional garment draped over the melodies.” Abbot Pothier’s analysis was uncharacteristically cranky in his famous “de caetero” letter of 1906, which you can download here. Indeed, when Pope St. Pius X was presented with editions by publishers without any rhythmic markings—Pustet, Mechlin, Schwann, and so on—Cardinal Merry del Val wrote a letter (dated 9 June 1906) saying:

His Holiness was pleased to receive this gracious gift and had, furthermore, words of praise for publications of this character which, in not presenting any sort of additions, are in true conformity with the aforementioned Vatican Edition.

But this is another topic for another day…