Father Benedict Nivakoff shares the inspiration for their album, ‘BENEDICTA: Marian Chant from Norcia’
The early Christian church derived their music from existing Jewish and Byzantine religious chant. Like all music in the Western world up to this time, plainchant was monophonic: that is, it comprised a single melody without any harmonic support or accompaniment. The many hundreds of melodies are defined by one of the eight Greek modes, some of which sound very different from the major/minor scales our ears are used to today. The melodies are free in tempo and seem to wander melodically, dictated by the Latin liturgical texts to which they are set. As these chants spread throughout Europe , they were embellished and developed along many different lines in various regions and according to various sects. It was believed that Pope Gregory I (reigned 590-604) codified them during the sixth-century, establishing uniform usage throughout the Western Catholic Church. Although his actual contribution to this enormous body of music remains unknown, his name has been applied to this music, and it is known as Gregorian Chant.
Gregorian chant remains among the most spiritually moving and profound music in Western culture. An idea of its pure, floating melody can be heard in the Easter hymn Victimae paschali laudes.
Many years later, composers of Renaissance polyphony very often used plainchant melodies as the basis for their sacred works.
It’s interesting to note that the ordering of society can sometimes be dictated by the prevalent religion and/or denomination that exists in that society. That religious view will often influence the politics of the day and how humankind interrelates with each other. This Morris explains is the politics of Thanksgiving.