Teaching Chant to Benedictines – quite overwhelming

January 21st, 2017 by Karin Strinnholm Lagergren

This blogpost is written from the Benedictine abbey Mariavall (mariavall.se). Me and my colleague Pia Bygdéus here at LNU have been invited to work with the sisters for a few days on liturgical (Gregorian) song and the art of liberating the voice. It is difficult to express in words how meaningful this work has been and how much this has made us reflecting on for example what it means to be able to sing and how groups can encourage and diminish the forces within it.

To be able to work with people whose life is carried by prayer in sung form is an honour but also a big responsible. In particularly the sisters wanted help with Gregorian introitus antiphons for mass, one of many examples of a wish to reintroduce more Gregorian elements in monastic liturgy as I observed in my PhD thesis ‘The Word became Song’. This is a process I call regregorianisation and is an ongoing and very interesting trend reflecting deep ideological issues.

As a researcher of now lost traditions or manuscripts since long not in use, it is a useful experience to meet current monastic life and its inhabitants for which I am deeply grateful. It reinforces my conviction that Gregorian chant never has ceased to exist in any form. The tradition is still living since more than a thousand years but its forms and conditions constantly change.

Tools for teaching introitus antiphons.

Apple tree in fog at Mariavall.

Karin Strinnholm Lagergren
Senior Lecturer at Linnaeus University
Senior lecturer in musicology and singer of medieval music. Research interest monastic chant, in particular Birgittines and Dominicans. In this blog I write, comment and reflect on my research project 'The Musical World of the Birgittine Order'. Expect loads of manuscript images, tricky chant problems and square notation!

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