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The Advent Project: The Later Seventh-Century Creation of the Roman Mass Proper

Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 480
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  • Book Info
    The Advent Project
    Book Description:

    In his final accomplishment of an extraordinarily distinguished career, James W. McKinnon considers the musical practices of the early Church in this incisive examination of the history of Christian chant from the years a.d. 200 to 800. The result is an important book that is certain to have a long-lasting impact on musicology, religious studies, and history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92433-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    The creation of the Roman Mass Proper must have been something like constructing a house while living in it. The Roman cantors did not have the luxury of waiting for its completion before having to sing Mass each day. They might have concentrated on graduals one year and on introits another, while every year they had to deal with the complication of a temporal cycle and a sanctoral cycle that were intermeshed from day to day. They labored more systematically on the temporal cycle than the sanctoral dates, and they found the shorter genres of introit and communion more manageable...


    • CHAPTER 1 The First Centuries
      (pp. 19-34)

      Could it be said that the Proper of the Mass had its beginnings at the very first celebration of the Eucharist—the Last Supper? The gospels of Matthew (26.30) and Mark (14.26) conclude their descriptions of the occasion with the identical verse: “And while singing a hymn (ύμνήσαντϵς) they went out to the Mount of Olives.” If, as the three Synoptic gospels indicate, the Last Supper took place on the first evening of the Passover (John has it on the preceding day), the hymn would in all likelihood have been the Hallel (Psalms 113–18),¹ which was customarily sung by...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Later Fourth Century
      (pp. 35-59)

      The closing decades of the fourth century saw one of the richest and most productive periods in the history of Christian liturgy, East and West. It was, for one thing, the time that the church year achieved recognizable shape.¹ Easter and Pentecost had been celebrated from apostolic times (even if it took more than a century of controversy before the original Thursday Passover observance was fixed on Easter Sunday). But the full Easter cycle—comprising a Lenten quadragesima (forty days) culminating in the baptism of the catechumens at the Easter vigil and followed by the Paschal quinquagesima (fifty days), punctuated...

    • CHAPTER 3 Centuries of Silence: Gaul
      (pp. 60-76)

      Augustine lay dying in 430 as the Vandals held his episcopal see of Hippo under siege. It must have seemed like the end of civilization to him. Already two decades before, in the year 410, when the Visigoth king Alaric had looted Rome, the bishop was prompted to set down his musings on the evanescent nature of temporal power in his monumentalDe civitate Dei. But this later assault was altogether more final and devastating than the events of 410. The Vandals had left their native region in the Oder Valley in the fourth century and swept west through France...

    • CHAPTER 4 Centuries of Silence: Rome and England
      (pp. 77-98)

      It is unfortunate that we have no outstanding ecclesiastical figure writing in Rome toward the end of the fourth century. Milan has Ambrose, Hippo and Carthage have Augustine, Caesarea has Basil, Alexandria has Athanasius, Antioch and Constantinople have John Chrysostom and Jerusalem has Egeria; but for Rome the silence that characterizes the so-called Dark Ages begins at least a century earlier than in the other important Christian centers. We have no direct witness, then, to psalmody in the Roman Mass at the turn of the fifth century. We have seen that psalms with alleluia refrain were sung in the Roman...


    • CHAPTER 5 Sacramentary, Lectionary and Antiphoner
      (pp. 101-124)

      This set of three chapters sets the seventh-century Roman stage for the Advent Project. The first treats the development of the sacramentary and lectionary in the hope that recounting the histories of these books will shed light on that of the more illusive Mass antiphoner. The second and the third attempt in differing ways to date the composition of that antiphoner, this being synonymous with dating the Advent Project itself. I introduce the three by invoking a fundamentally important distinction that Willi Apel makes in discussing the origins of Proper chants.

      Apel maintains that we must take care to separate...

    • CHAPTER 6 Dating the Mass Proper I: Advent and the Thursdays in Lent
      (pp. 125-153)

      The previous chapter closes with an effort to visualize what the Roman Mass antiphoner might have been like in the decades immediately preceding its final revision. Throughout that exercise the unspoken assumption was maintained that we know the content of that final revision. But do we? It would seem all but essential to give a positive answer to that question before turning to the attempt in this and the following chapter to attach a date to it.

      The content of the final revision—a project that took place in the later decades of the seventh century, as I will argue...

    • CHAPTER 7 Dating the Mass Proper II: The Sanctorale
      (pp. 154-192)

      This chapter on the sanctorale is the longest and most complex of the present volume; there is in fact an attempt here to compress a monograph-length topic into a more suitable dimension. Such compression, however, must allowa substantial amount of highly detailed discussion to stand. Only in this way can the chronological argument involved be creditably worked out. It is, as remarked in the introduction, an argument pivotal to dating the creation of the Roman Mass Proper, confirming my long-standing conviction that it must have taken place considerably later than the time of Gregory I, but not nearly as late...


    • CHAPTER 8 The Introit
      (pp. 195-221)

      The earliest unequivocal reference to the Roman introit is from the turnof-the-eighth-centuryOrdo romanus I, where the chant is described in its fully developed early medieval form.¹ Consisting of an antiphon and psalm, it is sung during the entrance of the pope at the beginning of Mass. The pope, who had arrived with his retinue at the stational church of the day, vested in thesecretarium, a kind of sacristy near the church’s entrance. Meanwhile the members of the schola cantorum took their places in the nave near the sanctuary, forming two double rows of singers that faced each other,...

    • CHAPTER 9 The Gradual
      (pp. 222-248)

      Ordo romanus I, the source of our first unambiguous reference to the singing of the early medieval gradual, is more laconic than one would have thought in reporting on so important a liturgical event. It tells us: “The cantor ascends and sings theresponsum.”¹ From the context, however, and various other eighth- and ninth-century documents, albeit Frankish ones, we are able to reconstruct a fairly complete description of the chant.

      The cantor had been designated before Mass while the pope and clergy were gathered in thesecretarium.² After the subdeacon finished his reading of the epistle on the second highest...

    • CHAPTER 10 The Alleluia
      (pp. 249-279)

      It isOrdo romanus I, as was the case with the introit and the gradual, that gives us our first unequivocal reference to the alleluia of the Mass. The passage that cites the gradual, “the cantor withcantatoriumgoes up and sings theresponsum,” continues, “if it be the time to sing the alleluia, then good, if not, however, the tract.”¹ One manuscript ofOrdo Iassures us that it is not the same cantor who is responsible for both chants: “Then another [sings] the alleluia.”² The musical format of the alleluia, like that of the gradual, is responsorial, consisting...

    • CHAPTER 11 The Tract
      (pp. 280-297)

      It is all too easy to adopt the revisionist view of the tract as simply the other side of the coin from the alleluia. It makes its first documented appearance in history, after all, in the same brief passage fromOrdo romanus Ithat introduces the alleluia: “After the subdeacon has finished reading [the epistle], a cantor holding a cantatorium ascends [the ambo] and sings the gradual (responsum). If it be the season to sing the alleluia, then yes; if not, however, then the tract; if neither, then only the gradual.” One can be forgiven for reading into the passage...

    • CHAPTER 12 The Offertory
      (pp. 298-325)

      The offertory is a world unto itself, a world I cannot claim to have conquered (even if I am not alone in this).¹ There is simply too great a quantity of music: the ninety-two offertories of the core repertory,² when one includes the verses, are roughly twice the length of any other item of the Mass Proper. And then there is the special problem of the Gregorian verses. Ranging in number from one to four for each offertory, they gradually fell into disuse during the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They were by and large ignored during the chant revival...

    • CHAPTER 13 The Communion
      (pp. 326-355)

      The introduction to this volume told how my adventure with the Mass Proper began in that fall 1989 seminar on the communion. The discovery that sent me on my way was that the entire temporal cycle of the communion was characterized by compositional planning. It had long been recognized that the weekday Lenten communions with their numerical series of psalmic derivations were an example of such planning, but it became clear to me that a program of one sort or another was also used to organize the three other major divisions of the church year—the Christmas and Easter seasons...

    • CHAPTER 14 The Creation of the Roman Mass Proper
      (pp. 356-374)

      It can be said that Mass psalmody originated at the Last Supper, but not the sung Mass Proper. The positive portion of this twofold proposition is not without significance for our subject. When Jesus and his disciples sang a “hymn” at the close of the Last Supper—quite possibly the Hallel—they were singing at the first “Mass.” They set the tone, moreover, for early Christian gatherings, eucharistic and otherwise, of a warm appreciation for religious song.

      But preconditions for the creation of a sung Mass Proper are not in evidence until the later decades of the fourth century. These...

  9. Epilogue: The Central Question of Gregorian Chant
    (pp. 375-404)

    What is one to make of the difference between the extant Roman and Frankish versions of the chant? They share virtually identical texts and liturgical assignments, but while their melodies are in most cases undeniably related, they manifest substantially different stylistic traits. Several decades ago, when this question first became the subject of serious debate, a number of scholars settled on the theory that there were two distinct chant dialects existing contemporaneously in the city of Rome. The most representative variant of this theory, shared by no less than Bruno Stäblein and Stephen van Dijk,¹ held that the extant Roman...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 405-444)
  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 445-454)
  12. Index
    (pp. 455-466)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 467-467)