Music at the Conventual Mass

There is music at the Conventual Mass from Tuesday to Saturday. This music is usually the music designated in Graduale Romanum, which is a book with the traditional Latin chants for the Mass. On Sunday the Abbey Choir sings at the Mass, with a mixture of chant and choral music.

The Graduale Romanum shows the music in the traditional four-staff notation. This can seem strange to those who have never seen it before but is fairly easy to learn. As someone once said to me, ‘If it wasn’t simple, monks wouldn’t be able to sing it!’ Unlike the modern music five-staff music notation, the key is determined by the position of the clef at the start of the line. Modern notation always has the same note on the same line but two different chants could have a note in different places.

There are books and websites giving more information on Gregorian Chant. Pluscarden Abbey produced a pamphlet some years ago. There is another introduction to chant, with videos, on the Medievalists website.

The start of the Introit for the First Sunday of Advent. Copyright Abbey Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, MCMLXXIX.

The Ealing Abbey Lay Plainchant Choir also sings Gregorian Chant once a month at the Saturday 6 pm Mass.

Since the music at the Conventual Mass is in Latin, we usually provide a translation to help people follow it. You can see the antiphons for this week here.