The term chant comes from the French chantier, and refers to the rhythmic speaking or singing of words. Chant can be “diatonic”, in which each syllable of a word has one note. This practice promotes understandability, and was emphasized after the Reformation. Examples in the hymnal include the Merbecke settings (e.g., S90). Chant can involve one syllable being extended over many notes in a “trope” (compare S92). Depending on the origin and practice conventions chant can be described as Gregorian (the common form in the west), Mozarabic (originating in Spain) or Ambrosian (originating in Milan, Italy). Anglican chant follows the general chant patterns found in Gregorian chant, but uses multiple voices in harmony. Most other forms of chant involve one vocal line and are known as plainsong.Listen to a sample
Chant is used in worship in this parish at solemn services. Uses include the chanting of the psalm by the choir, the chanting of certain prayers by the celebrant or cantor, and the responses of the people when they are addressed using chant. When the celebrant uses chant in a prayer (e.g., in the opening collect, or during the prayers at the altar) most words are sung using a reciting note, with variations up or down in tone at points in a phrase which are called a “flex”.
Most plainsong is a form of Gregorian chant. Longstanding conventions in use and musical structure exist, with eight recognized “tones” being used for the psalms. Plainsong is the normal chant practice in monastery prayer.