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The primary idea of the ancient Ecclesiastical Chant appears to be that of a plain recitation or in, toning; not confining itself, however, to a single note, but admitting of certain inflexions, or deviations from the strict monotone, as well for the sake of relieving the sameness and tediousness of that mode, when applied to a long series of verses, as also, no doubt, for the further purpose of giving a variety of character and expression to the Chant, so as to make it suit the changing character of the Psalms which are to be sung to it.
These inflexions, or deviations from the simple monotone, are of three kinds, distinguished by the positions which they severally occupy in the Chant. They are called, respectively, the Intonation, the Mediation, and the Cadence or Ending. These, together with the Recitation-note, (which of course forms its basis), constitute the whole of the Ecclesiastical Chant. • The following example will shew, at a glance,
what is meant by these several divisions of the Ecclesiastical Chant :
Tone 1. C
Cadence or Ending. The long note, occurring twice between the inflexions, and marked in both instances with an asterisk, is the reciting-note; which, being, as before remarked, the basis of the Chant, would naturally run through the whole of it, if not interrupted by the inflexions, or exceptional deviations from the fundamental monotone.
- Of the ancient Ecclesiastical Chant, in its purity, there are eight, and strictly speaking only eight, varieties, which are called Tones, and which are distinguished from one another, by the varieties of scale in which they were originally written. There is also another Tone, which is sometimes called the ninth, though it is not quite correct to call it so; for it is properly a Mixed tone, being compounded of several of the others. It is often, indeed, distinguished from the others by the name of the “ Mixed Tone;" as well as by that of the Foreign, or Peregrine Tone (Tonus Peregrinus), and also of the Gallican Tone.
We will now proceed to speak more particularly of the constituent portions of the Ancient Ecclesiastical Chant or Tone; viz., first, of the Recitation
note, and then, of the three forms of inflexion already mentioned, which go to make the Chant complete.
I. With regard to the RECITING-Note, it is only necessary to add to what has been already said on this subject, that in each of the eight pure Tones, this note is the same through the whole verse ; i. e., it is the same in both the two halves, or divisions, of the verse. In the Peregrine Tone, however, it will be seen, that there is one Reciting-note for the first half, and another for the second.
II. The INTONATION, as will be seen from the example above given, consists of certain notes at the beginning of the Chant, and before we come to the Recitation-note.
As a general rule, the Intonation is not employed except in the first verse of a Psalm ; when it is used for the purpose of giving out (if we may so express it) the Chant which is to be sung to that Psalm. It does not seem necessary however to use it, when there is not going to be a change in the tone.
It is perhaps most proper, when the Intonation is to be used only at the beginning of a Psalm, that it should be sung (together with the remaining half of the first verse) either by the Priest alone, or by the Bass voices of the Choir, in unison. This, indeed, should be an invariable rule, as regards the use of the Intonation in the first verse of the Psalm.
In the few rare instances, in which, according to this Psalter, the Intonation is introduced into every verse, viz., in the Magnificat (A.), the Nunc Dimittis
(A.), and the Easter Anthems, it may be sung, like the rest of the Tone, by the whole Congregation, and this too in Harmony, if the entire Chant is being so sung.
It will be observed that the Intonations are not introduced into the Music printed at the head of each Psalm, except in the cases of the three Canticles just mentioned. They are to be found, however, in the Scheme of the Tones, at the end of this Introduction, and may easily be referred to, if necessary, by the Priest and Choir, when they have occasion to use them.
When the intonation is used for the first verse only, it is to be sung to the word or words printed in Capitals, at the beginning of each Psalm. In the three instances, however, in which it is to be used for every verse, it will be seen that the words to be sung to it (in all the verses after the first), are properly pointed, on the same principle as that used for the Mediations and Endings.
III. The MEDIATION, as it is scarcely necessary to remind the reader, after the example given above, is the Inflexion in the middle of the Chant.
There is, strictly speaking, but one Mediation to each Tone, except the third. And this is sometimes said to have two, which are distinguished as its ferial and its festival Mediations.* They are both given
* The way in which this distinction has been acted upon in the present arrangement of the Psalter, has been to use the ferial mediations for Psalms of a more plaintive, and the
in the scheme of the Tones at the end of the Introduction.
There are, indeed, other Tones, viz., the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 8th, which are sometimes spoken of as having two Mediations, distinguished as their monosyllabic and dissyllabic Mediations. But this distinction is one that can perhaps scarcely be said to have its foundation in any real difference of the Music; in the two several cases. The whole difference, indeed, is simply as to whether we return to the Reciting-note before or after the colon which divides the two halves of each verse. This difference is fully explained in the remarks made below, upon the system of pointing employed in this Psalter.
IV. The CADENCE or ENDING, as need scarcely be suggested, is the Inflexion at the end of the Chant. To several of the Tones there is a great variety of Endings, some of which are very long indeed. But we have not adopted many of the longer Endings in this Psalter; and those which are here employed do not occur very frequently. Besides, in the few instances in which they have been adopted, we have not made use of the long ties, which are so often to be found in them in their ordinary forms; but we have resolved these into their constituent notes; and then preserving, as far as possible, the natural accent of the several notes, we have recombined them, in festival for those of a more animated or triumphant character. In some instances, indeed, both the mediations have been employed for two different parts of the same Psalm, in order to mark a change of character which occurs in the middle of it.