A review of music written using Latin texts in service of the liturgy of the Catholic Church encompassing music written in all periods with a concentration on contemporary composers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saulnier on Chant

Dom Daniel Saulnier, Gregorian Chant. A Guide to the History and Liturgy, trans. Mary Berry. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2009) 147 pp + illustrations.

Dom Daniel Saulnier has written extensively on chant and this slim volume is a very good synthesis of much of the background to his current work. After a potted history of the developemnt of the chant he moves quickly to an examination of the types of composition present in the repertoire. Of particular use, for teaching purposes are the illustrations attached to the final chapter 'Manuscripts' (pages 117-130). The book was originally published, in French, in 2003 and the present translation, by Dr Mary Berry, was nearly complete at the time of her death in 2008. I suspect the historical summary (pages 2-17) may need expanding considering some of the work done in the last five years. It should be noted that this book is not a primer in reading the chant notation but a concise introduction to the issues that inform interpretation today.


  1. Would this be a more reasable version of the book I acquired in Solesmes in 2005 and translated by Edward Schaefer?

  2. It is the 'same' book but a new translation. The illustrations, to my eye at least, are clearer and the binding more durable. In the earlier translation the footnotes were placed at the end of each chapter. The Berry translation places them all at the end of the entire text. My immediate reaction is that Dr Berry had the advantage of some years of conversation with Dom Saulnier which gives a fluidity to her prose.

  3. Thank you for that helpful advice, Fr Raven. I have ordered a copy.