Photo by Marc Salvatore
Archbishop Sample celebrates the Tridentine liturgy at Brigittine Priory.
Photo by Marc Salvatore
Archbishop Sample celebrates the Tridentine liturgy at Brigittine Priory.
AMITY —Why is Gregorian chant given first place by the Church as music of the liturgy? That was the topic of a conference that consisted of four Masses, four lectures and four workshops.

It is impossible to discuss Gregorian chant apart from the liturgy. Gregorian chant developed with the liturgy. The Masses at the conference were sung Masses — Missa Cantata — celebrated in both the Ordinary form and the Extraordinary form; there is no opposition between the two and both have their rightful place in the Church. Gregorian chant is the sacred music for both forms. Schola Cantus Angelorum provided the Gregorian chant.

The ancient, traditional form of the Mass The ancient, traditional form of the Mass is the Missa Cantata, when everything spoken aloud is to be sung. The people in the pews, choir members, lectors, ministers at the altar and celebrant chant parts specific to each role. Gregorian chant is the official music of the Church.

Sacred music is essential to the structure of the whole Mass.

Gregorian chant is a traditional art; it is holy, beautiful, and universal.  Its purpose is to give order, beauty, and form to the liturgy. Gregorian chant calms unruly emotions, stops the mind’s worldly preoccupations and frees the heart and mind to transcend the temporal world.

Gregorian chant is a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the fruit of the relationship with God because it is the Holy Spirit who teaches us to sing the praises to God.

Gregorian chant is a humble form of music. It isn’t performance music. It doesn’t seek to entertain. It doesn’t seek to please or to possess. Its purpose is to open hearts to the relationship with God.

Gregorian chant is sung by many voices but must sound as one voice.

Gregorian chant is the universal music of the Church and Latin is the universal language. The Church has an authentic liturgy with her own Latin language and her own Gregorian chant that has been hers for the greater part of 2,000 years. Gregorian chant in the sacred liturgy guarantees that wherever you live in the world, your church will be hearing the exact same Scripture lessons and chanting the exact same music on any Sunday or feast day of the liturgical calendar because both are proscribed for the calendar year.

Without the universal liturgy with the Latin language and the sacred Gregorian chant, the church fractures into individualistic, nationalistic, and cultural fragments.

Gregorian chant evokes the emotions of tranquility, reverence, and the sense of transcendence,  which allow participation in the deeper meaning of the liturgy. Gregorian chant opens the way for an encounter with the profound mystery of the Infinite God who became man to restore man’s relationship with God. God comes to us in the liturgy as the Good Shepherd to rescue his lost sheep and to carry us home on his shoulders.