The offertories of Old-Roman chant: a musico-liturgical investigation
Dyer, Joseph Henry, Jr.
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In the early Christian celebrations of the Eucharist the presentation of bread and wine by the deacons was a simple, practical matter surrounded with little or no ceremonial. Liturgical and musical elaboration of this part of the liturgy seems to have taken place first in Africa early in the fifth century concomitant with the development of the laity's role in the offering. The first extensive description of the Western offertory appears in Ordo Romnnus l: the laity did not form a procession and only the existence of an offertory chant is mentioned. Since the compiler of the Ordo does not regard the offertory as similar to the introit and communion (and, therefore, antiphonal) it must have been performed responsorially. A responsorial performance is appropriate for the offertory as it appears in the earliest musical record of the Roman liturgy, the Gregorian Gradual of Mt. Blandin. Thus, the late medieval term, antiphona ad offertorium, does not reflect the authentic form of the offertory. The elaborate verses of the Old-Roman and Gregorian traditions probably existed in the early ninth century. Their gradual disappearance has been attributed to a decline in the people's participation at Mass. In general, the texts of the offertories are drawn from the Psalterium Romanum but in a significant number of cases Old-Roman end Gregorian chant texts agree on a particular reading against the Psalterium Romanum. Two quasi-psalmodic formulae are found in the refrains and verses of many Old-Roman offertories. One of them, Formula B, occurs in virtually all F-mode offertories, frequently repeated many times within a single piece. In Formula A the reciting element (a repeated torculus) is more prominent. Thia formula is also shorter than Formula B (4 elements versus 7). Formula A occurs more frequently in the verses than it does in the refrains. Repetition of melodic material plays an important role in the formal design of the Old-Roman offertories. Forty offertories of a total of ninety four studied have at least one repetition of an entire phrase; in most cases the repetitions are extensive enough to have a unifying force. Small segments of the phrase which is repeated are broken off and subjected to multiple repetitions so that the complete phrase is heard only two or three times. The procedures of adaptation are extremely flexible though the identity of the model phrase is recognizable through all the variants. Repetition of short phrases or motives (generally a a or a a') occurs in both neumatic and melismatic portions of the chant. The Old-Roman melos is pervaded by this mosaic-like working with small motives. An extension of the principle of melodic repetition exists in the many cases (50) of "rhyme" between the ends of verses or between refrain and verse. In about one-third of the Old-Roman offertories at least one verse closes with the same cadence which preceded the detachable conclusion of the refrain (that part of the refrain which is repeated after each verse). In the tritus and tetrardus modes cadences which close a refrain never appear at the end of a verse or as internal cadences. This functional division is not adhered to strictly in the other-two modes. Text repetition, a phenomenon unique to the offertories, demonstrates the common textual basis of Old-Roman and Gregorian chants. All but four of the twenty-three Old-Roman examples observed have parallels in the Gregorian tradition.
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