Advent Calendar Day 9 – The Angelus

After yesterday’s rather insane Handel, I thought we needed a palate-cleanser. So this is a very simple, quiet piece of music – a choir of religious sisters singing the Angelus. The woman leading the chant has a truly lovely voice – very clear and pure and sweet, and very appropriate for this style of music. This style of music is much earlier than the other things I’ve posted here – Wikipedia (which is, of course, infallible) tells me that plainsong dates back to the 4th century AD, and started getting written down in the 6th and 7th century, under Pope Gregory (hence Gregorian chant). It doesn’t have a discernable beat or barlines, but the phrasing doesn’t entirely follow speech rhythms (as in Anglican chant) either. It just flows onward in its own time until it’s done.

I’m not sure if this particular piece of chant dates back that far, or whether it’s a modern piece that leans on the old style (i suspect the latter, because most of the Gregorian chant I’ve heard is a lot more complex than this), but it’s very pretty and peaceful either way.

While the text is generally sung as one of the monastic Hours, I think it is also appropriate for Advent, being another text about the angel Gabriel and Mary. But mostly I’ve chosen it for its peacefulness.

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