Friday, July 13, 2012

A New Resource for Ambrosian Chant

Recently, a cultural association has been founded in the city of Milan to promote the liturgical patrimony of the Ambrosian Rite, with the name Signum Ambrosianum. Among their various activities, the association has begun a project to reprint several of the books necessary for the celebration of the traditional Ambrosian liturgy. The first of these is the “Antiphonale Missarum”, the Ambrosian equivalent of the Graduale Romanum; the new edition contains all of the Masses of the Temporal cycle, plus those of the principal Saints’ feasts, as well as the ordinary of the Mass and associated chants. The new Signum Ambrosianum edition is a reproduction of the last pre-Conciliar version, the work of the Benedictine chant scholar Dom Gregory Suñol, published in 1935 at the behest of the Blessed Card. Ildephonse Schuster. The book also includes a table which explains which chants may be used in the reformed Ambrosian Rite wherever the traditional arrangement is no longer appropriate, similar to the 1974 Ordo Cantus Missae in the post-Conciliar Roman Rite. Their website offers a fuller explanation of the edition in English, as well as a preview. Those who are interested in acquiring this hitherto extremely rare book may contact the association at the following address for information on shipping and availability:  For the time being, Signum Ambrosianum is offering copies of the first print at the special price of 25 euros, rather than 40. In the future, other chant books such as the Vesperale will also be offered, as well as a bilingual missal for the faithful (in Latin and Italian; for a preview, click here.)
Although the chant of the Ambrosian Rite is quite different from that of the Roman, there is no reason why parts of the Ambrosian repertoire might not be judiciously incorporated into the celebration of the Roman Rite in either the Ordinary or Extraordinary forms, especially as additional music for the Offertory or Communion. Many editions of the Liber Usualis include an Ambrosian version of the Gloria in excelsis, and the special Lenten litanies “Divinae pacis” and “Dicamus omnes” are in the Cantus Selecti. (I once attended a Roman Novus Ordo in which the latter of these two litanies was used as the Prayers of the Faithful.) Over the centuries, there have been many such exchanges between the Roman and Ambrosian Rites; the re-publication of the “Antiphonale Missarum” represents an opportunity not just for scholars, but for choirs all over the world to increase their knowledge of this important part of the Latin liturgical patrimony.

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