This year the 13th Century Santa María church in Alicante has announced that it is going to offer a recital of Gregorian chants sung by the Schola Antiqua Choir, next Saturday (27th November) at 8.15 p.m. Apparantly Santa Maria was the first church in Alicante to offer Gregorian chants in Medieval times.
Gregorian music, is a combination of Franco and Roman liturgies and is one of the many traditions of liturgical song that developed in the Christian church during the medieval period. It has experienced something of a revival in recent years in Spain, and this year an increasing number of churches and cathedrals offer a Christmas recital of the chants.
Traditionally Pope St Gergory the Great (540-604) has been credited with the creation of Gregorian music, of gathering together the different forms of chants, adapting them, creating special schools, having the chants transcribed into an Antiphonary which in later centuries was used to spread the music to other countries.
However recent research has shown that the Pope Gregory involved in the creation of the liturgy was actually Pope Gregory II (r. 715-731), rather than Pope Gregory I (r. 590-604).
Gregorian music in Spain was first sung in the famous Monastry at Santo Domingo Silos, where the first manuscripts of written Spanish were found, and the monks there still put on regular recitals for visitors and sell cds.
There is something magic about visiting one of Spain’s amazing cathedrals, sitting in a pew and listenting to the peaceful sound of Gregorian music, even if you can’t understand what the choir is singing or, and if you could, you wouldn’t agree with it or relate to it anyway. Residents living in Spain near a medieval church, cathedral or monastry that offers a Gregorial recital programmed in the weeks leading up to Christmas, should try and go.
You won’t regret it.