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):
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.