HE SETTING of the “Alleluia” (by Johann Sebastian Bach) recently made available for free has elicited many favorable comments. I received one such email on Sunday: “I was at the 9:00AM Mass today and the choir sounded heavenly; all the voices blended beautifully and the Alleluia arrangement is enchantingly beautiful. That’s what church music should be. I feel so blessed to experience all that. Thank you for all your good work and for enhancing the beauty of the liturgy.” The arrangement was by Father Moissenet, a consultor to the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant, established by Pope Pius X on 25 April 1904 for the purpose of producing the official edition (“Editio Vaticana”).
Roster Assembly • Since many are unfamiliar with this commission, I’ve attempted to assemble a roster (below). Many sources are a little bit sloppy. They erroneously call certain people “members” of the Papal Commission when they were actually consultors. In his famous attack on the Editio Vaticana, Father Berewunge lists JULIUS BAS as a member; but he was neither member nor consultor. There were ten (10) voting members and ten (10) consultors.
A Quarrel Arose • A serious disagreement arose among the members of the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant. Entire books have been written dealing with the complicated maneuvers that took place behind the scenes. [Professor Weaver has alerted me to an intriguing tome on this very subject, published in 2013.] This topic is gargantuan; I suspect my colleagues will be discussing it with me for years.
In A Nutshell • Broadly speaking, two opposing camps arose. POTHIER’S APPROACH—“living tradition”—was based upon the Motu Proprio (25 April 1904): “The Gregorian melodies will be restored in their integrity and purity in accordance with the testimony of the most ancient manuscripts, in such a way, however, that due attention be given to the true tradition contained in the manuscripts throughout the centuries and to the practical use of the liturgy today.” MOCQUEREAU’S APPROACH—“archæology and nothing else”—considered the oldest manuscripts the only ‘valid’ tradition. Dom Mocquereau’s team seemed especially bothered by Abbat Pothier’s statement (January 1905) saying that some pieces of the KYRIALE “can and even should be given important retouching, sometimes to correct them, at other times to improve them by enriching the melody and by giving them developments suggested by the circumstances.”
Edition Saved By Pius X • Due to the fiery disagreements, Pope Pius X came close to scrapping the entire project. In the end, he solved the issue by declaring that the Editio Vaticana would be based upon the Solesmes GRADUALE which had been in circulation for about thirty (30) years, rather than taking a risk with Dom Mocquereau’s “archæology and nothing else” edition which—even if it could be completed in time—did not possess a track record. It’s interesting to note that even Father De Santi (Mocquereau’s staunch ally) “pleaded the cause of the living tradition” to Pope Pius X in April 1905 and found Dom Mocquereau “too intransigent” [Combe, p339]. Dom Mocquereau told Cardinal Merry Del Val (Secretary of State) on 25 April 1905 that the ‘living tradition’ was synonymous with corruption. [Combe, p344]
Three Designations • I’ve attempted to label each member by means of three (3) designations:
M (1) Supported Pothier;
M (2) Opposed Pothier;
M (3) Undecided.
I welcome corrections to this article; it was difficult to find information on several.
Members of the Commission:
1 of 10 • Abbat Joseph Pothier (1835–1923)
Chosen by Pope Pius X to be president of the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant, Dom Pothier had been a monk at Solesmes Abbey and worked on plainsong under Abbat Guéranger. Father Angelo De Santi called him “master of us all,” because (almost single-handedly) he restored the authentic Gregorian rhythm, the authentic Gregorian pitches, and even—helped by a Belgian printer—invented the ‘form’ of the Gregorian fonts still used today, even by his enemies! Dom Pothier published an obscene amount of books, and copied tons of ancient by hand, both diastematic and adiastematic. According to Dom Guépin: “The maestro made everything by hand, and made up for the imperfection of his equipment by patience and the ingenious procedures he invented; he also acted as an illustrator and decorated his work with vignettes, illuminated capitals, tailpieces, even full-page illustrations representing the mysteries of the Annunciation and Christmas.” Dom Pothier served as Sub-Prior of the Abbey of Solesmes from 1862–1863 and from 1866–1893. Then he was appointed superior of Saint Martin’s Abbey in Ligugé. Finally, in 1898, Pothier became Abbat of Saint Wandrille in Normandy (a monastery founded in 649AD, which Pothier had revived in 1895). During France’s deplorable persecution of priests, Pothier found refuge for his community in Belgium for a period of time. Many interesting stories, a biography, and photographs of Dom Pothier can be found at this link. His brother, Dom Alphonse Pothier, was also a Benedictine monk and—as far as I can tell—remained at the Abbey of Solesmes until his death. Dom Pothier’s chief collaborators were both monks from the Abbey of Solesmes: (1) Dom Paul Jausions, who died in 1870 at the young age of 35 while visiting Indiana; (2) Dom Raphael Andoyer, whom Pothier appointed as a voting member of the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant when it came time to prepare the ANTIPHONALE for publication. A veritable goldmine of electrifyingly sensational documents are waiting to be discovered (and translated) in the form of Dom Pothier’s letters, housed at the Abbey of Saint Wandrille. For example, according to Jean-Pierre Noiseux, Archive 1W40 holds ninety (90) letters from Dr. Peter Wagner to Dom Pothier written between 1893 and 1913. At the beginning of each meeting of the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant, Abbat Pothier would sing through the plainsong pieces about to be discussed. If only those moments had been recorded! Father Ralph March (d. 2016) wrote: “If any single man could deserve the title father of the renewed chant it would be Dom Joseph Pothier.” In January of 1924, Amédée Gastoué published a summary of Dom Pothier’s life.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
2 of 10 • Dr. Peter Josef Wagner (1865–1931)
He studied under Father Michael Hermesdorff at Trier and became a university professor in Freiburg (Switzerland). If memory serves, Wagner’s dissertation dealt with Palestrina’s secular (!) music. He founded a “Gregorian Academy” at Fribourg (Switzerland), and when his publications appeared in Francophone countries he often signed his name as Le Docteur Pierre Wagner, Professeur de science musicale et de musique sacrée à l’Université de Fribourg. His students included: Joseph Gogniat, Father Charles Dreisoerner, Father Karl Weinmann (d. 1929), and Dr. Karl Gustav Fellerer. According to Marie Pierik (Vincent d’Indy’s student), Wagner “was particularly commissioned by Pope Pius X to make a historical investigation into the problem of Latin neums.” Shortly before his death, Wagner was decorated by Pope Pius XI “for his outstanding services in the restoration of Liturgical chant.” His famous book, Einführung in die gregorianischen Melodien; ein Handbuch der Choralwissenschaft, has been translated into English. Considering the importance of that great work—still cited by scholars—it’s not easy to understand why so little information about his life is available. Many of the organ accompaniments composed by Dr. Wagner can be downloaded from the Lalande Online Library. Broadly speaking, his plainsong accompaniments are atrocious. In January 1906, a professor at the seminary in Maynooth named Father Heinrich Bewerunge (d. 1923) published articles attacking the Editio Vaticana. Father Bewerunge wrote: “My quarrel is with Dom Pothier alone, and if I feel rather angry with him, it is precisely because he has frustrated the intention of the Pope, and placed the Holy See in a very awkward position.” Professor Wagner published a blistering response, which eviscerated Bewerunge’s arguments one by one. When the two men met in Paris at a 1914 musical congress, Father Bewerunge describes their interactions: “He did the chatting, and I listened. It was mainly about that wretched man, Dom Mocquereau. Wagner was very much relieved when I assured him that I did not accept Dom Mocquereau’s rhythmical theories. He is a funny man, that same Dr. Wagner.” Father Bewerunge read a paper during that congress and described the reaction: “I read my paper before a fair audience. Naturally there was not much of a discussion. It was too new an idea for them. Wagner, however, was gracious enough to admit that there might be something in what I said. But Gastoué, who was in the chair, said it all rested on a double or triple misunderstanding. French politeness!” Peter Wagner was allegedly [Combe, p378] the one who wrote the PREFACE to the Editio Vaticana, published in 1908, which contained a paragraph devastating to the “archæology and nothing else” position. Dr. Peter Wagner was often referred to as “membre de la commission Vaticane de chant grègorien” or “commissionis pontificiae gregorianae membrum.” In 1905, Wagner wrote: Well known is the glory that the Most Reverend Dom J. Pothier has given to the world with the traditional melody and the equally traditional way of performing it. Everyone who practices liturgical chant has accepted his principles and follows them. But the Most Reverend Abbot of St. Wandrille had some disciples who did not understand that the greatest merit of their master is precisely that he did not have a system. They believed they could add some new things to his teaching; sadly, while some of these are useful, others are manifestly dangerous and arbitrary.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
3 of 10 • Bishop H. Laurent Janssens (1855-1925)
A Benedictine monk, Dom Henri Laurent Janssens served as rector of the Pontifical Athenæum of Saint Anselm, author of Le rythme du chant grégorien (1891), and was consecrated a bishop on 19 June 1921. His first name can also be written as “Lorenzo.” For reasons not entirely clear, Dom Mocquereau and Dom Janssens passionately hated each other; yet Pope Saint Pius X had declared on 29 April 1904: “With Dom Pothier, Dom Mocquereau, and Dom Janssens, we are an iron barrel and we are unafraid of our critics.” Anyone interested in Dom Janssens’ views about the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant would do well to read his 25 November 1905 letter. (Ours is the first English translation ever made of this document.) We recall how Pope Pius X gave the following instruction on 25 April 1904: “The Gregorian melodies are to be restored in their completeness and true nature, according to the testimony of the more ancient manuscripts, taking into consideration not only the legitimate tradition of intervening centuries, but also the common practices of present-day liturgy.” Dom Janssens—with his eye toward the common practices of present-day liturgy—on 8 September 1904 “suggested preparing an abridged edition” for smaller churches [Combe p292]. Indeed, at the suggestion of Dr. Wagner, the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant decided to create “more or less ornate recitative formulas to be adopted for the simple chanting of the Graduals, Tracts, and Alleluia verses” (Resultion #27, September 1904). This was never brought to fruition, but twenty yers later the “Chants Abrégés” would complete their desire. These easier formulæ are being mentioned here because they seem consistent with proponents of the “practices of present-day liturgy.” Indeed, Dom Horn even seconded Dr. Wagner’s motion that the chants between the Epistle and Gospel could be omitted in “small churches in non-Latin countries” [Combe p292]. • You will want to read the 29 June 1906 letter which Dom Janssens sent to Max Springer on behalf of Pope Pius X.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
4 of 10 • Msgr. Lorenzo Perosi (1872-1956)
He was a very famous composer who worked for five different popes. His father, a prominent Italian church musician, was choirmaster at Tortona Cathedral. One of his brothers [Carlo] became a cardinal, and his other brother [Marziano] became choirmaster at the Cathedral of Milan. As a young man, Lorenzo studied with Monsignor Franz X. Haberl (d. 1910), Dom Mocquereau, and Dom Pothier. In 1894, Perosi became choirmaster at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. The following year, Perosi was ordained by Cardinal Sarto himself. Father Perosi and Cardinal Sarto were close friends, and in 1898 Cardinal Sarto used his influence with Pope Leo XIII to get Perosi named as “Perpetual Director of the Sistine Chapel” in Rome.
5 of 10 • Rev’d Father Angelo de Santi, S.J. (1847-1922)
President of the Associazione Italiana Santa Cecilia, he was instrumental in founding the PONTIFICAL INSTITUTE OF SACRED MUSIC in 1910, and contributed to La Civiltà Cattolica (a famous Jesuit magazine). Father De Santi drafted “Tra Le Sollecitudini,” issued by Pope Pius X on 22 November 1903. Father De Santi based the document on the 1893 sacred music memorandum sent by Cardinal Sarto to the Sacred Congregation of Rites, as well as the pastoral letter sent to Venice by Cardinal Sarto in 1895. Father De Santi’s opinions seemed to vacillate. For example, even though he made it seem that he sided with Mocquereau against Pothier, Dom Pierre Combe (page 339) says that “Father De Santi pleaded the cause of the living tradition because he found [Mocquereau’s cadre] too intransigent.” [Incidentally, Abbat Pothier on 25 June wrote a letter to Dom Mocquereau saying that Mocquereau had been “within his rights to propose changes to the 1895 edition, but that he had been too intransigent in doing so.”] Father De Santi considered himself the creator of the Pontifical Commission; i.e. he believes that Pope Pius X chose as members and consultors the scholars whom Father De Santi selected. In a letter dated 6 September 1905, Father De Santi referred to the Pontifical Commission as “the work of my hands.” Regarding the disagreements that plagued it, Father De Santi wrote in 1905 (Rassegna Gregoriana): “If one wanted to speak the truth, it would seem that other things are at stake here, monastic issues that have nothing to do with the Gregorian edition; a look back at the last five years would show us that this is a disagreement among the Benedictines themselves.”
6 of 10 • Msgr. Antonio Rella (18??-19??)
His last name is sometimes spelled as Rello. Monsignor Antonio Rella was the assistant of Monsignor Lorenzo Perosi, who was often ill. Rella’s official title sounds funny in English: Perpetual Vice-Director of the Pontifical Chapel. When Rella was directing the Sistine Chapel choir in Australia, his hotel was burglarized. Rella made it known that his numerous medals of honor and his papers were the most treasured (in his view) portion of the booty obtained by the thief. He said he was less concerned about the loss of his money. It seems the robber responded to Monsignor Rella’s appeal. His medals, papers, and other articles were returned by the thief. We have not been able to ascertain the date of Rella’s birth or the year he died. On page 339 of his book, Dom Pierre Combe claims that Monsignor Rella was opposed to Abbat Pothier, but I find this difficult to believe since Rella seems only to have been placed on the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant because he was assistant to Monsignor Perosi, who supported Abbat Pothier. Dom Combe was sometimes unreliable, most likely due to his extreme partisanship.
7 of 10 • Baron Rudolf Kanzler (18??-19??)
Dom Mocquereau described Baron Kantzler as a “plainchant enthusiast” who was the “son of General Kanzler.” Dom Pierre Combe claims (p. 168) that Baron Kanzler took photographs of manuscripts for Dom Mocquereau. Dom Combe also claims (p. 185) that Baron Kanzler in 1901 was appointed to a special Roman commission (presumably for the diocese of Rome) on sacred music by Cardinal Respighi. According to this article, Baron Kanzler was hesitant to accept his nomination to the Vatican committee by Pope Pius X. We have not been able to ascertain the date of Kanzler’s birth or the year he died. Dom Mocquereau felt that Kanzler was on his team, whereas Father Holly thought Kanzler was on Pothier’s team.
Opposed to Pothier:
8 of 10 • Msgr. Carlo Respighi (1873-1947)
Monsignor Carlo Respighi was a musician who (eventually) ended up serving as Master of Papal Ceremonies. His uncle was PIETRO CARDINAL RESPIGHI (d. 1913), vicar of Rome. In December of 1903, Pope Pius X addressed an important statement on sacred music to Pietro Cardinal Respighi. Pietro was uncle & cardinal; Carlo was nephew & monsignor. Monsignor Carlo Respighi founded (alongside Father Angelo De Santi) the Rassegna Gregoriana, which he directed until 1914. By means of Nuovo studio su Giovanni Pier Luigi da Palestrina e l’emendazione del Graduale Romano (published in 1899), Monsignor Carlo Respighi had attempted to prove that Palestrina did less “corrupting” of the Gregorian melodies under Pope Gregory XIII than was previously believed. The controversy—briefly stated—was as follows: Pope Gregory XIII had commissioned Palestrina and Zoilo to revise the Gregorian melodies in the aftermath of the Council of Trent, in spite of protests by Don Fernando de las Infantas (d. 1610). Palestrina died before the work could be completed, but his son Iginio saved the revisions made by his father. When Palestrina died, other great musicians—including Mario Nanino (d. 1607), Giovanni Bernardino Nanino (d. 1623), Luca Marenzio (d. 1599), Felice Anerio (d. 1614), Ruggiero Giovannelli (d. 1625), and Francesco Soriano (d. 1621)—continued the work of “revision,” which is now looked upon as vandalism. The reason all of this matters is because Rome was hesitant to jettison the Editio Medicæa since the great Palestrina had been involved in its creation.
Opposed to Pothier:
9 of 10 • Dom André Mocquereau (1849-1930)
I will say little about Dom Mocquereau at this time. He has been—and will continue to be—discussed by my colleagues and myself. A pupil of Dom Pothier at Solesmes Abbey, Dom Mocquereau did meet Abbat Guéranger (d. 1875), but when he entered the monastery Guéranger had already died. (This is important because some erroneously claim Dom Mocquereau worked under Dom Guéranger.) Dom Mocquereau eventually became Prior of Solesmes. On the one hand, certain individuals attack Mocquereau’s famous rhythmic system as “discredited” and “outmoded.” On the other hand, the very people who make such assertions have proven incapable of replacing his system with anything else except unsettling ‘nuanced’ interpretations only soloists can perform. It is an undeniable fact—whether we like it or not—that Mocquereau’s rhythm has been sung by a larger number of Catholics than any other system. As I’ve already said, much has been written about his rhythmic system, and much more will be written about it. Katharine Ellis recently discovered evidence there may have been financial reasons to “put as many rhythmic signs as possible in the Graduale and Antiphonale.” I think it’s important to remember the musical world Dom Mocquereau was fighting against. His theory that the musical line ultimately takes priority when it comes to music was revolutionary—yet I personally find it unassailable. Listen to the disgraceful, hideous, disturbing plainsong recordings made by the SCHOLA CANTORUM of Amédée Gastoué and you can begin to see what Dom Mocquereau was up against. Finally, I must clarify something regarding ‘machinations’ we’ve been discussing that took place among members of the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant. Please don’t accuse me of besmirching Dom Mocquereau, as if he were an innocent bystander to the maneuvering that occurred behind the scenes—maneuvering that caused Pope Pius X to become “tired of the whole business” and “unhappy at the fact that, after we were all in agreement with Dom Pothier, now we have declared war on him” [Combe, p361]. Of course I wasn’t there, so I rely somewhat on deduction. On 21 June 1905, Dom Mocquereau declared: “We have the majority here in Rome, and even on the Commission as a whole.” On 7 July 1905, Dom Mocquereau declared: “This morning I received a letter from Dom Pothier, who invites me to assist him in his task. I shall no longer answer him.” On 27 April 1905, we find Dom Mocquereau speaking of members “favorable to our cause,” saying Baron Kanzler “leans more toward our side, as an archæologist.” On 22 May 1905, Dom Mocquereau sent a note from an ally suggesting the Pontifical Commission be “overhauled, the first to be ousted being the President, Dom Pothier, then the useless members; to belong to it, one must be a philologist, and editor, and a paleographer.” Things got so bad, Abbat Pothier packed his suitcase and planned to leave Rome, but the Secretary of State (Cardinal Merry Del Val) convinced him to stay [Combe, p359]. Please understand that I can’t say with certainty what maneuvers Dom Mocquereau personally undertook. Nevertheless, I see nothing libelous about referencing Mocquereau’s “team.”
Opposed to Pothier:
10 of 10 • Henry George Worth (1852-1912)
He is mentioned on p. 334 of Roads to Rome Being Personal Records of Some of the More Recent Converts to the Catholic Faith (1901). There’s also quite a bit of his correspondence with Dame Laurentia McLachlan about plainchant at Standbrook Abbey. [For the record, there’s also massive correspondence between Dame Laurentia McLachlan and Father Heinrich Bewerunge.] Henry George Worth was an indefatigable worker, and—since he was a ‘prisoner’ in his room for months due to illness—he devoted his time to collating liturgical manuscripts, chiefly English, of which he had a remarkable collection in facsimile. Dom Pierre Combe cites (page 338) several letters from Mr. Worth which demonstrate that he was on the side of the archeologists and “against the attitude of” Abbat Pothier, but it should be remembered that Mr. Worth was quite elderly at this time.
Opposed to Pothier:
1 of 10 • Rev’d Father Raffaello Baralli (1862-1924)
This priest of Lucca (Tuscany, in central Italy) taught at an institution which is now known as Instituto Musicale Luigi Boccherini, wrote articles for Rassegna Gregoriana, helped found the PONTIFICAL INSTITUTE OF SACRED MUSIC, and taught Gregorian paleography there until 1924. Dom Mocquereau demonstrated contempt for Abbat Pothier in this letter to Father Baralli dated 7 July 1905.
Opposed to Pothier:
2 of 10 • Rev’d Father François Perriot (18??-19??)
Very little is known about him. Dom Pierre Combe (p339) says he opposed Abbat Pothier, but also (p382) implies he became Abbat Pothier’s ally. He seems to have taught during the 1860s at the Major Seminary of Langres (Northeastern France). Some sources list “Canon François Perriot” as that seminary’s superior. Dom Combe cites a (27 April 1905) letter by Father Perriot which would seem (perhaps) to place him more on Mocquereau’s side: “I have enclosed the reasons why I think that we should not admit later modifications in the well-established earlier versions. It is on this point that I insisted at greater length in my first letter, which I did not send to you.” A little earlier, on 1 March 1905, Abbé Perriot had written: “To return to the earliest origins seems to be the true purpose of the restoration desired by the motu proprio.” Perhaps our readers can help us find more information about this priest? A good start would be his date of birth and date of death.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
3 of 10 • Monsignor René Moissenet (1850-1939)
Father René Moissenet of Dijon opposed the rhythmic signs of Dom Mocquereau. He is mentioned by Father T. A. Burge, OSB: “There is not a single correction, not a single one of the versions that Father Bewerunge condemns, that has not been fully discussed and approved, by the major pars in many cases, and in every case by the sanior pars, of the Commission. When we find such men as Dr. Wagner, Dom Janssens, members of the Pontifical Commission; M. Moissenet, Canon Grospellier, M. Gastoue, Consultors, publicly extolling and defending the versions of the Vaticana, it is not difficult to gather that they have thrown in their lot with Dom Pothier, and accept the responsibility for the character of the edition.” Some books: (a) Hommage à Monseigneur René Moissenet (1850-1939) fondateur de la Maitrîse de la Cathédrale Saint-Bénigne de Dijon; (b) La polyphonie sacrée (1922); (c) La Prononciation du latin (1928); (d) L’Enseignement du chant sacré dans les séminaires, étude d’après S. S. Pie X et S. Thomas d’Aquin (1913). Moissenet Media: 001 • 002 • 003.
Opposed to Pothier:
4 of 10 • Rev’d Father Norman Holly (1868-19??)
He converted to Catholicism in 1886. In July of 1896, we find him studying for the priesthood in Fribourg, Switzerland. He published “Elementary Grammar of Gregorian Chant” in 1904. He served as Director of Liturgical Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie, New York) in 1905. On 20 March 1905, Father Holly wrote this intriguing letter to Dom Mocquereau. (Notice how it implies the meetings of the pontifical commission took place at the Greek college.) Father Holly frequently fulfilled the role of secretary at the meetings of the commission. Weeks after the publication of the Editio Vaticana KYRIALE, Father Holly published a polemic against how Dom Mocquereau was treated. I presume that Father Holly, like Mr. Worth, converted from Anglicanism. There appears to be an ‘English bias’ toward Dom Mocquereau—could that be because the Solesmes monks took refuge in England, whereas Abbat Pothier’s monks took refuge in Belgium? On 27 June 27 1905 Father Holly wrote: “Little by little, the Commission is becoming neatly divided into two factions, of which Father de Santi and Dom Janssens set themselves up as leaders; Msgrs. Respighi and Rella, as disciples of Father de Santi, are aligned with him, while Perosi, Kanzler, Wagner and Dom Pothier stand with Dom Janssens. Dom Gaisser always remains independent. As for myself, after I recovered from my initial surprise and disillusionment, I did not hesitate to join Father de Santi.” This shows that Dom Pierre Combe’s chart (p339) is perhaps a little unfair in its division of people into two camps.
5 of 10 • Abbat Ambrogio Amelli (1848-1933)
He was a Benedictine priest whose scholarship embraced biblical sciences, patristics, liturgical history and musicology. In 1877, he founded an Italian church music association called Santa Cecilia and served as its president until 1885. Additionally, he founded a publishing house (for the printing of sacred music) and a journal called “Musica Sacra.” He was Prior of Monte Cassino Abbey, but in 1908 he became Abbat of Saint Mary’s monastery in Florence. Dom Pierre Combe quotes a letter from Dom Antonin Schmitt (Dom Pothier’s colleague) dated 8 September 1882, at a time when Solesmes was attempting to make allies, in spite of the plainsong monopoly given to Pustet by Pope Pius IX: “The outstanding event of our stay in Milan is the complete conversion of Dom Amelli, who appeared totally devoted to Dom Pothier whom he understands better all the time. He had to abandon part of his program when Dom Pothier explained to him how the truth simplifies everything. Dom Amelli publicly and on several occasions expressed his personal conviction that Dom Pothier’s excellent and all-embracing synthesis was the means by which all was explained and logical. He has been personally and without a doubt won over to our side.”
6 of 10 • Rev’d Father Hugo Athanasius Gaisser (1853-1919)
He was associated with the Greek College at Rome. In 1912 he became Prior of Saint Andrew’s Abbey (in Bruges, Belgium). In 1935, Dom Adelard Bouvilliers wrote: “The Schola at Maredsous Abbey is not quite fifty years old. It was founded under the supervision of the late Bishop van Caloen, OSB, and had for its first director the late Dom Michael Horn, OSB, a real organist and teacher-composer. The latter was followed by Dam Hugo Gaisser, a musician and a savant, who is still an appreciated collaborator to Musica Sacra (Namur) and other divers scientific reviews. Dam Gaisser left this post in the time when he was sent to the Pontifical Greek College, in Rome, to restore the study and the practice of the Byzantine liturgical Chant. I knew of Dom Gaisser’s successors in the person of Dom Ermin Vitry, a first class organist and voice teacher. Dam Vitry is a product of the Institut Lemmens and under his direction the Schola at Maredsous knew days of prosperity.” Perhaps our readers can help us find more information about Dom Gaisser? He’s also known by the following name: Ugo Atanasio Gaisser. His baptismal name was “Josef Anton.”
In support of Abbat Pothier:
7 of 10 • Father Alexander Grospellier (1856-1908)
Canon Regular of the Immaculate Conception of the community of Saint-Antoine (Isère) until 1902; later a secular priest of the diocese of Grenoble; specialist in liturgy and Gregorian chant; professor at the Grand Séminaire de Grenoble; former secretary to Gaspard Cardinal Mermillod; left Grenoble in 1907. It is not known why Dom Combe omits Grospellier’s name on page 266 of his book. Perhaps (like Dom Mocquereau) Father Grospellier was added to the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant at a later date. Even when many others refused to work with Abbat Pothier, Father Alexandre Grospellier continued—alongside Dom Laurent Janssens, Dom Michael Horn, Abbé François Perriot, Dr. Peter Wagner, Professor Amédée Gastoué, Dom Raphaël Andoyer, and Dom Lucien David.
Opposed to Pothier:
8 of 10 • Rev’d Father Raphaël Molitor (1873-1948)
He was appointed organist at the famous Emmaus Monastery in Prague at the age of 17. [During WW2, that monastery was seized by the Gestapo and the monks were sent to Dachau concentration camp.] Molitor, an expert in Canon Law, was the first abbot of the Abbey of Saint Joseph at Gerleve in Westphalia, and was eventually elected Abbat-President of the Benedictine Congregation of Beuron. On 24 June 1904, Dom Molitor published a document thoroughly responding to questions about “the announcement of a new edition of plain chant” by Pope Pius X. In 2007, I sent my copy of that document to Mr. Jeffrey Tucker, who then paid to have it professionally scanned. Mr. Tucker then uploaded that precious document to the Church Music Association of America website. Dom Pierre Combe claims (p339) that Dom Molitor was on the “archæology and nothing else” team, in opposition to Abbat Pothier.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
9 of 10 • Rev’d Father Michael Horn (1859-1936)
A composer, organist, and choir director, Dom Horn initially was a Benedictine monk at Beuron Abbey, but later ended up about 6 hours east at SECKAU ABBEY, which is a Benedictine monastery in Styria (“Steiermark”) in Austria. Around 1911, we find him as choirmaster of JOSEFSKIRCHE, a beautiful church in Graz (the capital city of Styria) in Austria, since that church was staffed by the Seckau Benedictines. Dom Horn edited a publication called Gregorianische Rundschau. In 1922, we find him as choirmaster and organist for the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Lambrecht (in Styria). Perhaps around the year 1905—nobody knows for certain—he published Ordinarium Missae organo concinente juxta editionem Solesmensem, which puts the chant melody in “Pustet Medicæan box notation” with harmonies underneath. When the Editio Vaticana ANTIPHONALE was released in 1912, Dom Horn published an important article, translated by Mr. Patrick Williams. (Ours is the first English translation ever made of this document.) Regarding the pre-Urbanite hymns—which would prove so important 100 years later when the Brébeuf Catholic Hymnal was published—Dom Horn’s comments in that article are interesting. Dom Horn was opposed to “archæology and nothing else.” For example, when Dom Mocquereau tried to push “Ti” as a reciting tone for Mode III, Dom Horn said to do that would be to “turn back the art of music 1200 years” and warned that “Germany and Austria will reject such melodies with scorn” [Combe p336].
In support of Abbat Pothier:
10 of 10 • Professor Amédée Gastoué (1873-1943)
Author, professor at Universitas Catholica Parisiensis, and choirmaster of a beautiful church in Paris called “Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste de Belleville.” In 1907, Gastoué published a Byzantine chant book. Treatises by Professor Gastoué on plainsong accompaniment (and other subjects) have been scanned and uploaded to the Saint Lalande Library. You can download an article he wrote about Missa de Angelis. In 1920, Amédée Gastoue published L’Art Grégorien, which John Rayburn called “one of the most fascinating of all histories of plainchant.” In that book, Gastoué drew a distinction between the School of Solesmes (Abbat Pothier) and the New School of Solesmes (Dom Mocquereau). Willi Apel called Gastoué “one of the most outspoken critics of Dom Mocquereau.” Gastoué complained about Mocquereau’s rhythmic signs: “The tolerance which Dom Mocquereau obtained from Rome for his rhythmic signs allows him, by a peculiar abuse, to go to the very end of his design, which is to impose on the whole world his personal interpretation of the medieval rhythms. It is time to protest against this pretention, so little justified. Those who sing plainsong must not let themselves be dominated by a scholar who defends his own glory with such undue partiality!” About twenty years ago, I discovered a little ‘insert’ written by Gastoué inside a KYRIALE published circa 1905. You can download that short document, and—if you read French—notice how #14 (XIV) treats the melismatic mora vocis. The plainsong recordings Gastoué left are an abomination. Consider this recording he made of the “Pascha Nostrum Immolatus Est” Alleluia for Easter Sunday.
Added Later to the Commission:
In support of Abbat Pothier:
1 of 3 • Dom Raphaël Andoyer (18??-19??)
Dom Andoyer was a monk of Solesmes who later went to the Ligugé Monastery, where Dom Pothier was briefly in charge. Perhaps our readers can help us find more information about this Dom Andoyer? A good start would be his date of birth and date of death.
In support of Abbat Pothier:
2 of 3 • Monsignor Giovanni Mercati (1866-1957)
Added to the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant on 6 May 1905, but it’s not clear to me whether he was added as a voting member or a consultor. His attempt to restructure the Pontifical Commission on Gregorian Chant was often referred to as the “Mercati Memorandum” or the “Mercati Regulation.” It was rejected by Pope Pius X. Mercati was later named a cardinal. Perhaps our readers can help us find more information about Father Mercati?
In support of Abbat Pothier:
3 of 3 • Dom Lucien David (18??-19??)
Dom David was an assistant to Abbat Pothier. Dom Pierre Combe (page 364) cites a rumor that Dom David ghostwrote the important letter dated 24 June 1905 by Cardinal Merry Del Val, which “saved” the Editio Vaticana by ordering that it be based upon the 1895 edition created at Solesmes by Dom Pothier. [On the other hand, Father De Santi believes the letter was written by Bishop Janssens.] In 1947, Dom David published a biography of Dom Joseph Pothier which you can download as a PDF file. (The anecdote at the end about Pius X is essential reading.) Perhaps our readers can help us find more information about this Dom David? A good start would be his date of birth and date of death. You can download a 1912 article by Dom Lucien David. He wrote a book about the Abbey of Saint Wandrille called: L’abbaye de St Wandrille: Racontée par Dom Lucien David et illustrée par Pierre Matossy (1935): 001 • 002 • 003
Guessing Game • I have attempted to identify the members below; how’d I do?
Citation: An invaluable book is called: The Restoration of Gregorian Chant: Solesmes and the Vatican Edition. This book was originally published by Dom Pierre Combe (a monk of Solesmes) in the 1960s. The library at Catholic University still possesses a French edition that was the personal copy of Justine Ward—or at least it was there twenty years ago. In the early 2000s, Dr. Theodore Marier started work on a translation from French to English. He found it very tedious (the book is massive and dense). He used to say: “Well, it’s time to go get some years off Purgatory by translating Combe.” Dr. Marier died before completing the work, and William Skinner was hired to finish what was left. Most of the Italian and Latin sections were translated by Monsignor Robert A. Skeris.