OME BELIEVE that when Pope Pius X promulgated the Editio Vaticana, he got rid of ancient variants of Gregorian chant, but that view cannot be maintained. What Pius X did was create an official edition for the Church—which no other publisher could overrule—and anyone aware of the situation during those years realizes what a remarkable action this was.
It’s actually not forbidden to sing from ancient manuscripts—so long as the text is not altered—and this was done by the Sistine Chapel during papacy of Pope Saint Pius X. Moreover, the legislation of Pius X allows modern composers to replace the Vaticana melodies with their own creations, although this should be done only with discretion. 1
The FSSP choir in Los Angeles will be singing the “Golden Sequence” directly from a 13th-century manuscript on Pentecost Sunday:
You can download the musical score, which includes the ancient version, an English translation by Fr. Adrian Fortescue, and a modern notation version:
Teresa Clark has kindly sent another version, in box notation:
You can also download an organ accompaniment I composed earlier this week:
The priest who taught me Gregorian chant doesn’t care for 2 the Belgian style of accompaniment. Please play through what I’ve written and let me know your thoughts on the CCW Facebook page. I always read the CCW Facebook comments about my articles—although I personally don’t have a Facebook account. I may not read them immediately, but sooner or later I always do. In particular, please tell me what you think of the organ stops I chose for “O Lux Beatissima” (VERSE 5) and “Sine Tuo Numine” (VERSE 6) in that video.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Speaking of the Victimae Paschali—another Sequence—Fr. Fortescue wrote: “The clanging melody (like the blare of trumpets) is one of the very finest pieces of plainsong we have. It seems the perfect musical expression of Easter. And its immemorial connection with the words makes it almost incredible that anyone should ever want to replace it by a modern composition.”
2 His precise words were: “De gustibus non est disputandum.”