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Chant texts and cantus firmi

This guide provides access and information on melodies and texts of Gregorian chants for those involved in the study and performance of these works.

Melodies and texts: Introduction

This section highlights Gregorian chant song books as well as databases and indexes for finding chants.

Modern chant books from before Vatican II (1962–5)

Search tools and databases

  • CANTUS Database
    • Database for Latin ecclesiastical chant
    • The most extensive and authoritative source for chant manuscripts
    • Inventories of chant manuscripts, mostly of the Office, but also includes Mass chants
    • Many chant melodies are transcribed (with and without text)
    • Links to digital images of many different manuscripts
    • Provides information on the feast, the Office, where in the Office, the mode (and differentia, if relevant), and lists manuscripts in which the chant can be found
  • Cantus Index
    • Catalogue of chant texts and melodies for Office and Mass
  • Global Chant Database
    • Searchable database of plainchant melodies and texts both in medieval sources and new editions
    • Information on text, melody, genre, mode, and concordances in new editions and other online databases
    • Some links to facsimiles
  • Cantus Planus
    • Regensburg’s data pool for Gregorian chant
    • Catalogue of chant incipits, including full chant texts
  • Antiphonale/Graduale Synopticum
    • Provides textual sources along with variants
    • Site is in German
  • MMMO: Medieval Music Manuscripts Online Database
    • A database of music sources that is still adding content
    • Includes manuscripts from the medieval period until 1600
  • DIAMM: Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music
    • Online database with inventories of medieval and many Renaissance manuscripts
    • Links to images of most sources
    • Includes some chant sources as well as indicating where chant appears in manuscripts of polyphonic music
  • Sancta Missa Gregorian Chant Online Collection
    • Open-access pdfs of various Gregorian chant resources
    • All pdfs are downloadable and most come from the Church Music Association of America

  • Bryden, John R. and David G. Hughes, eds. An Index of Gregorian Chant. 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969. ML102 C45 B8 (Bryden and Hughes)
    • Index of Gregorian chant texts and melodies mostly from modern chant books
    • Omitted: Ambrosian chant and “old-roman” repertory
    • Omitted: Sequences, tropes, proses, versus and conductus, prosulae
    • Textual (vol. 1) or melodic (vol. 2) incipits, indicating where the chant can be found in modern chant books
  • Baroffio, Giacomo, ed. Iter Liturgicum Italicum: Editio Maior. Instrumenta, 1. Stroncone: Associazione San Michele Arcangelo, 2011. folio Z6611 L76 I86 2011
    • A catalogue of Italian manuscripts worldwide arranged by city/institution/call number
    • Information about type of source (gradual, breviary, hymnary…), date, number of folios, origin, etc.

Physical facsimiles of medieval chant manuscripts

  • Frere, Walter Howard, ed. Antiphonale Sarisburiense. London: Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, 1901-25. M2 P6 C2
    • Facsimile of a 13th-century English book of music for the Office for the English rite of Salisbury
  • Frere, Walter Howard, ed. Graduale Sarisburiense. London: B. Quaritch, 1894. ML30.4 C3 G7 1894 (Rare Collection, Music Library)
    • Facsimile of a 13th-century manuscript of music for the Mass for the English rite of Salisbury
    • Includes a dissertation and historical index
  • Mocquereau, André, and Joseph Gajard, eds. Paléographie musicale: les principaux manuscrits de chant grégorien, ambrosien, mozarabe, gallican. Solesmes: Impr. Saint-Pierre, 1889-. Incomplete sets: M2 P152M2 P152 1971M2 P153
    • 22-volume set of facsimiles of major early chant manuscripts, some of which are mentioned in Bryden and Hughes or Hesbert, CAO
    • Several volumes (along with other manuscripts) are available online through Alessandro De Lillo's website

Location and contacts

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Marvin Duchow Music Library
Elizabeth Wirth Music Building
3rd floor - 527 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1E3
Subjects: Music

Resource key

  • McGill users only
  • Open access resource
  • Free resource
  • In-library use
  • Catalogue record

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