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Decorated Incipit (the beginning words) page to the Gospel of Matthew, 1120–1140 (Caption and photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Mass

Musicologists study liturgical music. Lay music has existed for a long time. There have been troubadours, trouvères and minnesinger who wrote and sang humble songs. However, the development of polyphony, intertwined voices, was achieved by the composers of madrigals and sacred music. These compositions are the birthplace of harmony and counterpoint.

The Mass, or Eucharist, is the “central act of worship” (see Mass, Wikipedia) in the Catholic Church. But Monks living in monasteries also observe the Canonical Hours as determined in the Rule of Benedict, which has now been used for 1,500 years.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), convened by Pope John XXIII, introduced the use of the vernacular in Mass, formerly said in Latin. Benedictines, the order founded by Benedict of Nursia (c. 480 – 543 or 547 CE), were not affected by this change. It was decided that they would continue to use the Liber Usualis, a book of Latin-language Gregorian chant, compiled by the monks of the Abbey of Solesmes, France, during the 19th century.

Monks celebrate Mass, but they also observe the liturgy of the Hours, called Canonical Hours, or the Divine Office. (See Canonical Hours or the Divine Office in RELATED ARTICLES.)

The Ordinary and the Proper

Mass has components used every day. These constitute the “ordinary” of the Mass. Masses, however, may also include the “proper,” components added on special days or occasions, such as a Requiem Mass, a Mass for the Dead.



Yesterday was Epiphany, the twelfth day of Christmas. Epiphany commemorates the visit in Bethlehem of the kings of Orient.


The above posts were updated, but the links do not always lead to the correct site. Would that links did not disappear. Videos are sometimes removed, but links should remain.

There is a degree of repetition in the above-listed posts. I try to write my posts as though no one had read former posts on the same subject and therefore repeat what was said earlier.

Wishing all of you a fine weekend.

Agnus Dei, by Samuel Barber


Medieval Agnus Dei, Euphrasian Basilica, Poreč, Croatia.