Gregorian Chant Mass for Christmas Day: Communion
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 1 Track 13
Returning to words that appeared in the Gradual
we have new but familiar sounding music. Like the Gradual
, this Communion
is built from the same materials as many modern tunes.
There are four phrases. The middle phrases are more elaborate and arch higher than the outer two. Together the phrases outline the pattern 'D-E-F-E.' As in the Gradual
, one of the phrases uses an 'F' Major triad as a melodic pattern.
What I like about this Communion is the sturdiness of its construction. The text requires music that is evocative of breathtaking landscapes. Four fairly short phrases is a good amount of music for this task. In that amount of time music can take us from someplace, look around, and return. The second and third phrases are the landscapes, so to speak. These phrases, which speak about the ends of the earth and salvation, are appropriately ornate. Also, they are beautiful arches. As we noticed in the Credo
the arch is an important melodic concept. This piece is also helped by using arches in the overall structure. As mentioned, the phrases ultimately outline an arch that travels up and down a minor third. With apologies to Miklos Rozsa, the modern listener might be reminded of Jack Webb in the role of Sgt. Joe Friday. But whether or not this progression reminds the listener of any tune specifically, its simplicity makes it easy to follow. And thus the listener has strong landmarks in the piece to serve as guides who point out the ends of the earth and evidence of salvation.
After this piece we return to elegant cascades of the Kyrie
now set to Ite, missa est