Gregorian Vespers                    home


Each first and third Saturday of the month Gregoriana Amsterdam sings Vespers in the Amsterdam church the Papegaai (Parrot). Until September the location was the Obrechtchurch.


Vespers is the traditional Christian evening prayer. Early sixth century Benedict of Nursia (480-547) writes in his famous Rule for Monks: "The prophet says: Seven times a day I sang your praise. We will fulfill this holy number of seven, when we comply to the duties of our service on the hours of Lauds, Prime, Tierce, Sexth, None, Vespers and Compline [...] The Vespers are limited to four psalms with their antiphons. After these psalms the lesson is said, followed by the responsory, the Ambrosian hymn, the verse, the Canticle from the Gospel, the litany and Our Father which serves as the final prayer." 


We don't sing seven times a day (Ps 118:164), but only twice a month. Also, we don' t get up in the middle of the night (Ps 118:62) to sing Matins. Our monthly three quarters of an hour are nothing compared to over hundred benedictine hours of prayer. To place the tiny bit we do in perspective and present something of the rich tradition, we therefore don't follow the books exactly. We broadly follow the liturgical calendar, which can be seen in the texts of antiphons, chants, lectures and prayers. Besides, before and after vespers, as well as after the lecture, we sing some suitable chants from Gregorian and related traditions as the Ambrosian, Old Roman and Mozarabic.


Since 2012 Mozarabic chant in particular has become of importance for us; i.e. the lost chant of the Iberian penisula. This tradition started in the year 589 when Leander of Seville converted the Visigothic kingdom to Catholicism. In the early seventh century his brother Isidore described the rite in detail, which after the Muslim conquest of 711 became widely known as the Mozarabic rite. In 1080 at the Council of Burgos, the rite was officially abolished and replaced by the Roman rite with its Gregorian chant. In 1085 Toledo, the centre of the Spanish Church, was reconquered from Islam. Six parishes of Toledo were allowed to continue their ancient rite. In about forty manuscripts and fragments over 5000 Mozarabic chants for Mass and Office are preserved in music notation. Since the pitch-readable staff was only invented in the eleventh century, nearly all of these chants are unreadable for us. The most important manuscript is the León antiphoner (E-L 8) from the early tenth century. We are focusing on the computational generation of melodies for the lost chant of the Mozarabic rite. Usually we will perform some of these in our Vespers. Here you can follow our research. Here you can listen to some of the results and synchronically view the manuscript images.




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