Beneventan Chant

views updated


The chant of the extinct Beneventan liturgical rite. Like the Beneventan rite itself, Beneventan chant was a distinct repertory, different from but sharing a common origin with the Gregorian and Ambrosian repertories. Since the Beneventan rite and chant had been superseded by the Roman rite and Gregorian chant by the beginning of the 9th century, a full century before the earliest liturgical books with notation, it is only by chance that anything of the rite or its music is preserved. Two graduals, however, manuscripts VI. 38 and VI. 40 of the Capitular Library in Benevento, have a Beneventan-rite Mass proper (consisting of a Milanese-like ingressa instead of an introit, gradual, alleluia, offertory, and Communion) following the Roman proper on certain major feasts. Both manuscripts have Beneventan chants for Holy Saturday, Easter, St. Michael (May 8), Ascension, Pentecost, St. John Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, Assumption, and St. Andrew; VI. 40 has in addition Holy Thursday, St. Laurence, Twelve Brothers (September 1), Exaltation of the Holy Cross, SS. Simon and Jude, All Saints, and St. Martin. Manuscript VI. 38 alone preserves Palm Sunday and an offertory for the finding of the holy cross. A single fragment of what may have been an exclusively Beneventan rite book was bound into the manuscript Benevento VI. 35 as the rear flyleaf; it contains portions of the Masses of Christmas and St. Stephen. Finally, Beneventan chants for some of the Holy Week ceremonies appear in the gradual Vat. lat. 10673.

The arrangement of manuscripts VI. 38 and VI. 40 suggests that an attempt was made in Benevento to preserve the ancient local liturgical and musical heritage, but a comparison of Beneventan with Gregorian chant shows readily enough why the local product did not survive. The Beneventan melodies tend to be long-winded and repetitious; indeed some consist of a single rather florid phrase repeated over and over. Except for the St. Stephen fragment, all the surviving alleluia verses are set to a single melody. When a reciting tone occurs, as in a tract, the Beneventan chant employs, instead of the single pitch of Gregorian chant, an ascending second (notated by a podatus) reiterated on each syllable, an especially tedious effect. Interestingly, while the region of Benevento (from Monte Cassino to Bari) continued to exhibit a degree of liturgical independence after the adoption of the Roman rite, so that, for instance, a distinct Romano-Beneventan dialect of Gregorian chant may be identified, the latter shows no points of contact with the old Beneventan chant. Connections with Milan are equally tenuous; although the term "Ambrosian" does appear in Beneventan manuscripts, it only means non-Roman, i.e., Beneventan, and in fact never refers to pieces common to the Beneventan and Milanese repertories.

Bibliography: b. baroffio, "Benevent," Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. f. blume (Kassel-Basel 1949). r. j. hesbert, "L'Antiphonale missarum de l'ancien rit bénéventain," Ephemerides liturgicae 52 (1938) 2866, 141158; 53(1939) 168190; 15 (1945) 6995; 60 (1946) 103141; 61 (1947) 153210. t. f. kelly, "Palimpsest Evidence of an Old-Beneventan Gradual," Kirchenmusikalisches Jahrbuch 67 Jahrgang1983 (Köln 1985) 523. t. f. kelly, The Beneventan Chant (Cambridge 1989). p. salmon, "Nouvelle liste de manuscrits en écriture bénéventaine," Studia Codicologica, Texte u Untersuchungen z Geschichte d altchristlichen Literatur v. 124 (Berlin 1977) 401405. b. baroffio, "Liturgie in beneventanischen Raum," Geschichte der katholischen Kirchenmusik, ed. k. g. fellerer (Kassel 1972) 2048. j. mallet and a. thibaut, Les manuscrits en ecriture beneventaine de la Bibliotheque capitulaire de Benevent (Paris 1984). m. huglo, "L'ancien chant beneventain," Ecclesia orans (1985) 26593. n. albarosa and a. turco, eds., Benevento, Biblioteca capitolare 40 Graduale (Padua 1991).

[a. doherty/eds.]