the entire cycle of the Church's Services. The precise manner in which these Melodies were noted down is open to doubt: but, that they were committed to writing, in the celebrated 'Antiphonarium' which has made S. Gregory's name so justly celebrated, is certain; and, though the system of Semiography then employed was exceedingly imperfect, it cannot be doubted that this circumstance tended greatly to the preservation of the Melodies from the corruption which is inseparable from mere traditional transmission. [See Notation.] But we owe to S. Gregory even more than this; for, notwithstanding the objections raised by certain modern historians, it is almost impossible to doubt that it was he who first introduced into the system those four Plagal Modes, which conduce so materially to its completeness, and place the Gregorian Chaunt so far above the Ambrosian in the scale of aesthetic perfection. [See Plagal Modes.]
For many centuries after the death of S. Gregory, the 'Antiphonarium' was regarded as the authority to which all other Office-Books must of necessity conform. It was introduced into our own country in the year 596, by S. Augustin, who not only brought it with him, but brought also Roman Choristers to teach the proper method of singing it. The Emperor Charlemagne (ob. 814) commanded its use in the Gallican Church; and it soon found its way into every Diocese in Christendom. Nevertheless, the work of corruption could not be entirely prevented. In the year 1323, Pope John II found it necessary to issue the famous Bull, Docta sanctorum, in order to restrain the Singers of his time from introducing innovations which certainly destroyed the purity of the antient Melody. Cardinal Wolsey complained of the practice of singing Votive Masses 'cum Cantu fracto seu diviso.' Local 'Uses' were adopted in almost every Diocese in Europe. Paris, Aix-la-Chapelle, York, Sarum, Hereford, and a hundred others, had each their own peculiar Office-Books, many of them containing Melodies of undeniable beauty, but all differing, more or less, from the only authoritative norm. After the revision of the Liturgy by the Council of Trent, a vigorous attempt was made to remove this crying evil. In the year 1576, Pope Gregory XIII commanded Palestrina to do the best he could towards restoring the entire system of Plain Song to its original purity. The difficulty of the task was so great, that the 'Princeps Musicæ' left it unfinished, at the time of his death; but, with the assistance of his friend Guidetti, he accomplished enough to render his inability to carry out the entire scheme a matter for endless regret. Under his superintendence, Guidetti published, in 1582, a 'Directorium chori'; in 1586, a 'Cantus Ecclesiasticus Passionis D. N. J. C.'; in 1587, a 'Cantus Ecclesiasticus officii majoris hebdomadæ'; and, in 1588, a volume of 'Præfationes in Cantu firmo'; all printed at Rome, the first 'apud Robertum Gran Ion Parisien,' the three last by Alexander Gardanus. These splendid volumes were, however, anticipated by the production of a splendid folio Antiphonarium, printed at Venice by Pet. Liechtenstein (of Cologne), in 1579–1580. In 1599 the celebrated 'Editio Plantiniana' of the Gradual was issued at Antwerp; while, in 1614–15, the series was closed by the production, at Rome, of the great Medicean edition of the same work, believed to be the purest and most correct which has yet appeared. These fine editions are now exceedingly scarce; but the necessity for a really good series of Office-Books, obtainable at a moderate price, has long been felt, and several attempts have been made to meet the exigencies of the case. In 1848 a Gradual and Vesperal were published at Mechlin, the former based upon the Medicean edition, and the latter, upon the Venice 'Antiphonarium' of 1579–80. Both these works, with an 'Officium Hebdomadæ sanctæ' compiled with equal judgment, have already passed through many carefully revised editions; and, not many years after their appearance, similar volumes were issued by the Archbishops of Rheims and Cambrai, and also by Père Lambillotte, whose Gradual and Antiphonarium were posthumously published in 1857. All these editions were infinitely more correct than the corrupt reprints in general use at the beginning of the present century; and, moreover, they were issued at prices which placed them within the reach of all. Their only fault was a not unnatural clinging to local 'Uses.' This, however, struck at the root of absolute purity: and, to obviate this difficulty, Pope Pius IX empowered the Sacred Congregation of Rites to subject the entire series of Office-Books to a new and searching revision, and to publish them under the direct sanction of the Holy See. In furtherance of this project the first edition of the Gradual was published, under special privileges, by Herr Pustet of Ratisbon, in 1871, and that of the Vesperal in 1875. Other editions soon followed, and we believe the series of volumes is now complete. A comparison of their contents with those of the Mechlin series is extremely interesting, and well exhibits the difference between a Melody corrupted by local 'Use,' and the self-same Strain restored to a better authenticated form, as in the following Verse of the Hymn 'Te Deum laudamus.'
1. From the Mechlin Vesperal (4th ed. 1870).
- It has been objected to this, that the so-called 'Ambrosian Te Deum' is in the Mixed Phrygian Mode—which is true. But it has yet to be proved that the Melody, as we now possess it, exhibits the exact form in which it was left by S. Ambrose.
- Except in the 'Ordinarium Missæ,' which followed the Editio Plantiniana.