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Wednesday, October 12

Mozarabic chant and roots of Western music

The Ancient Mozarabic ("among the Arabs") Rite


Yesterday, on Yom Kippur, a Jewish high holy day, I decided to look on YouTube for a recording of ancient Judaic music that's specifically relevant to that most sacred day for Jews. My search was barren. From the description of Yom Kippur it's possible there was no music or chanting developed in ancient times for the day, which is one of atonement.

Yet during the course of my search I stumbled across Mozarabic chants, which I'd never heard of before. According to the note at YouTube by Eduardo Mallo Huergo (Google translation from the French):
The Mozarabic chant is proper to the liturgy of the Iberian Peninsula. It occupies a place of first importance in the history of Western music alongside other branches of the Latin liturgical chant, which themselves consist of a specific and complete directory known today as Gregorian chant and song Ambrosian. 
The songs gathered by Marcel Peres in this recording are from the books of choir of Cisneros. This title was released for the first time in 1995. 
1. Office's Reading: On Priestly Invocation intro: Per Gloriam Nominis Tui
2. Office's Reading: Officium Alleluia Ortus Conclusus
My goodness. My musical education has certainly been lacking. The good news is that looking into a sacred day of atonement led me to a magnificant celebration of sacred chant and roots of Western music.

From Wikipedia's article:
Mozarabic chant (also known as Hispanic chant, Old Hispanic chant, Old Spanish chant, or Visigothic chant) is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Visigothic/Mozarabic rite of the Roman Catholic Church, related to the Gregorian chant
It is primarily associated with Hispania under Visigothic rule (mainly in what was to become modern Spain) and with the Catholic Visigoths/Mozarabs living under Muslim rule, and was soon replaced by the chant of the Roman rite following the Christian Reconquest
Although its original medieval form is largely lost, a few chants have survived with readable musical notation, and the chanted rite was later revived in altered form and continues to be used in a few isolated locations in Spain, primarily in Toledo.
Mozarabs, again from Wikipedia:
The Mozarabs ... is a modern historical term that refers to the Iberian Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, but did however adopt elements of Arabic language and culture. They were mostly Roman Catholics of the Visigothic or Mozarabic Rite.
All right, here are Mozarabic chants, sung by the Ensemble Organum, to which musicology and modern music listeners obviously owe a great deal, from my reading Wikipedia's article about them. 

It's just amazing, isn't it, how much there is in the world working for the good; it's only that bad news tends to obscure many of its efforts.


    
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