The Beginner's Book of Chant by a Benedictine Monk, St Michael's Abbey Press, £9.95
In recent years there has been a revival of interest in Gregorian chant. The reasons for this are as much secular as religious. The sound of plainsong is attractive even to those who know little of its meaning; monastic recordings sell remarkably well.
It might have been thought that with the introduction of the vernacular into the liturgy. Gregorian chant might be dead and buried. Not so. Many people remember with affection the Missa de Angelis
and other traditional plainsong Mass settings. Parish choirs and congregations are often itching to sing these, if only they knew bow.
Contrary to popular opinion, the continued use of Latin plainsong singing in the Mass was encouraged, not discouraged, by the Council Fathers. Vatican II's Saerosanctum Conciliar;; states that Gregorian chant should be given "pride of place". It is therefore timely that the
monks of St. Michael's Abbey, Farnborough,
should produce a book on plainsong singing entitled The Beginner's Book of Chant. The idea behind the book is to offer a guide to those beginners who wish to dive head-first into
After a brief historical overview, the book
explains the intricacies of plainsong notation. Plainsong can, of course, be sung using modern notation, although some subtlety and in-built rubato is lost. A chapter is devoted to rehearsing a choir in plainsong singing, with lots of useful hints.
Jeremy de Satge