Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Cantus Project

Recently a user put me on to The Cantus Project under the editorialship of Fr. Eduard Perrone.

The Cantus project describes itself as follows:

The Cantus Project consists of a team of musicians (including two priests) who have been working toward the singing of simple, authentic Gregorian chant melodies in an English translation that totally respects the chant, and is faithful to the Latin words.

We are conscious of two historic facts. First, the creation in Catholic antiquity of a magnificent corpus of sung texts called Gregorian chant, quite probably the holiest music ever conceived. Second, despite the continual urging of the Popes, from the time of the early Church Fathers through the Twentieth Century to sing the Liturgy (Mass, Office, etc.) with Gregorian chant, the tendency has been to neglect this treasure, and replace it with less worthy or quite unworthy music.

With these facts in mind, The Cantus Project team salutes the publication in 1967 and 1975 of the Vatican chant book called Graduate Simplex. It recognizes here the real possibility of the Catholic people, as well as of the Catholic choirs, to sing authentic Gregorian chant at Mass in the present day. However, we also recognize the difficulties of using the Latin language, especially after more than thirty-five years of its quasi-total neglect.

In consequence, The Cantus Project has the following aims:

1.) To make a translation, as faithful as possible, of the antiphons of the Graduale Simplex, having exactly the same number of syllables as the Latin, and the same accents, so as to make possible the unaltered singing of these simple yet authentic Gregorian chants in the English language. The Latin text will be included in the copy, for alternate use as desired.

2.) To recommend the singing of the Ordinary chants of the Mass in Latin with the traditional Gregorian melodies. The text of the Ordinary being sacrosanct, to force it in English to fit a given melody for Latin words would require either too many changes in the English words, or in the Gregorian melody.

The team of The Cantus Project hopes that singing simple Gregorian in English will pave the way for, eventually, singing some or many of these ancient holy melodies in Latin.

The associated psalm verses would be sung in English on a psalm tone close to the Latin psalm tones.

The Cantus Project does not conflict with the expected re-translation of the other liturgical books into English; but it would present the Graduale Simplex for its original purpose, that is, to make possible the singing of simple Gregorian chants in ordinary parishes, in English as well as in Latin, as seems best. This could bring about a revolution in holiness in our Liturgy. Additionally, the availability of these Englished chants would certainly eliminate the felt necessity indiscrimate (filler) use of hymns in our churches.

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