Chants of the Church Year

This weekly video series offers reflections on a variety of chants as they occur throughout the Church year. It is designed to help you deepen your appreciation for Gregorian Chant in general, while also providing material for meditation in preparation for the liturgy of the coming Sunday. Enjoy delving into the rich heritage of the Chant of Mother Church, by which she nourishes her children week after week.

3rd Sunday of the year/Epiphany - Offertory: Dextera Domini

The Offertory Chant is often a prayer directed toward Eucharistic worship. The text, from Psalm 117, is part of the Hallel Psalms, which, as an important part of the Jewish liturgy, may have been used at the Institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper.

2nd Sunday of the Year/Epiphany - Alleluia

“Alleluia” expresses in its original Hebrew the deepest aspirations and purpose of our Christian existence: to “Praise the Lord.”

The Baptism of Our Lord - Communion: Omnes

The Communion Antiphon connects the Feast we celebrate with our reception of the Sacrament of Sacraments. Through baptism - the gateway to all the sacraments - we are “clothed with Christ” and now are privileged to be fed by Him in the Sacrament of His love.

Epiphany - Introit: Ecce advenit

“Ecce” - Behold, and look deeply at a mystery surpassing our limited sensory perception. On this Feast, the Introit emphasizes that there is more to this Babe than meets the eye.

Mary Mother of God/The Circumcision of Our Lord - Alleluia: Multifarie

As a prism gives expression to the many colors contained within white light, so the beautiful brilliance of the Alleluia - Praise the Lord - is refracted in the verse that follows. Each word of that verse draws out a particular way we “Praise the Lord” and the similar melodic structures used between the Alleluia and its verse serve to emphasize this connection.

Holy Family (Ordinary Form) - Gradual: Unam petti

The Gradual is unique among the various chant propers of the Mass. Although each proper is shaped to accompany a liturgical action, the Gradual, which follows the proclamation from Scripture, flows without any contemporaneous movements in the sanctuary. The Gradual stands as a reminder that quiet meditation on Scripture is, of itself, a vital form of participation in the liturgy.

Sunday in the Octave of Christmas (Extraordinary Form): Introit: Dum medium

Just as the Word leaps down from heaven in the silence of the night, so also Gregorian Chant helps to calm and quiet our spirits, making them more receptive to receive the Word fruitfully.

Christmas Day - Introit: Puer Natus Est

“A boy is born for us.” Meet the tristropha in this introit - a musical figure which holds our joyous song in moderation as it gives a brief pause in the flow of the melody. Echoes in the melody also serve to draw theological connections within the text.

Advent 4 - Introit: Rorate

The image of dew appearing on earth leads this first chant. Moisture gives life to what would otherwise become a barren desert. Just as manna was given in the desert after dew appeared on the ground, so the Son of God, the True Bread from Heaven, appears through the dew of grace, giving life to our otherwise barren souls.

Advent 3 - Introit: Gaudete

Gaudete - The melody of this introit chant, from which the 3rd Sunday of Advent receives its popular title, gives color and meaning to the simple mandate to "rejoice" on this day. This chant clothes the sacred text in the simple texture of the swaddling clothes, which will soon clothe our Eucharistic King.

Advent 2 - Communion: Jerusalem surge

Each proper chanted is crafted to accompany and illuminate the liturgical action. The communion antiphon for this Sunday exemplifies this harmony between word and action, helping our minds to grasp more fully the great Mystery we receive.

Advent 1 - Introit Ad Te levavi

Explore the “text painting” of the introit for this first Sunday of the Church year. The melodies of Gregorian Chant are always at the service of the meaning of the sacred text. At the beginning of the Church year, Mother Church bids us, in words and melody, to lift our minds and hearts, with confident expectation, to God and to the true home He has prepared for us in heaven.


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