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by Gotham Chant

Chant your way to inner bliss. Amid the frenzy of New York City, our world-class Schola sings a kaleidoscope of medieval favorites from the Gregorian chant tradition.
Genre: World: Chants
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  Song Share Time Download
1. O Virtus Sapientiae
2:05 $0.99
2. Conditor Alme Siderum
2:22 $0.99
3. Alma Redemptoris Mater
1:12 $0.99
4. Rorate Caeli
2:53 $0.99
5. Beata Viscera
4:32 $0.99
6. Puer Natus in Bethlehem
2:09 $0.99
7. Sub Tuum Praesidium
1:04 $0.99
8. Jesu Dulcis Memoria
2:07 $0.99
9. Ave Regina Caelorum
1:01 $0.99
10. Parce Domine
2:38 $0.99
11. Ave Maris Stella
3:20 $0.99
12. Laetare Jerusalem
3:57 $0.99
13. Ave Verum
1:43 $0.99
14. Vidi Aquam
1:33 $0.99
15. Regina Caeli
0:43 $0.99
16. Victimae Paschali Laudes
1:53 $0.99
17. Ave Maria
1:12 $0.99
18. O Ignee Spiritus
2:16 $0.99
19. Panis Angelicus
1:43 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
What does it mean to sing 1,000-year-old chants in the middle of New York City? In one of the trendiest, zippiest zip codes on the planet? Chant happens all around us; people from all cultures and faith traditions chant--in New York, you hear chant in yoga classes and taxi cabs, rock shows and churches. Essentially, this album is a statement about finding timelessness and universality, despite our specific time and place.

This is a sample of the chants we sing at the Basilica of St. Patrick's Old Cathedral. We call it Gotham Chant, alluding to our downtown Manhattan location; the moniker Gotham dates from 1807, shortly before the cornerstone of the Basilica was laid in 1809.

The album is not searching for a hypothetical, historical chant, because there were no MP3s made at Notre Dame in 1220. What we do have are neumes and performance practice adapted and passed down through the centuries. The work of the Abbey of Solemnes and other modern scholars informs our general approach.

We wanted the recording to be organic, and so included the sounds of the city: the occasional engine, honk, or thud is part of the soundtrack. Some of those sounds aligned auspiciously, either harmonically or emphatically. We hope this music spurs you on to find the chant in your own life. Feel free to send us comments at We look forward to hearing from you.

Recorded at the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, New York City
Produced by Jared Lamenzo and Joshua South
Recorded by Malcolm Addey
Mastered by Nate Wood at Kerseboom Mastering

The Basilica Schola Cantorum:
David Claridge, Lianne Coble, Sarah Emley, Mellissa Hughes, Silvie Jensen, Kristin Jones, Thomas McCargar, Joshua South, Michael Steinberger, John Tiranno

The album is loosely organized according to the liturgical year. We begin with an antiphon, O virtus Sapientiae, composed by Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179). Named a Doctor of the Church in October 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI, she was a mystic, poet, and Benedictine abbess. Her magisterial Symphony of the Harmony of the Heavenly Revelations (Symphonia armoniae celestium revelationum) was a technology that used the medium of music to guide one’s spiritual path. Hildegard’s music leaps rhapsodically and lingers romantically.

Following the liturgical year, we begin with Advent and Conditor alme siderum, the famous 7th-century Advent hymn for Vespers.

Alma Redemptoris Mater is one of the four seasonal Marian antiphons, sung at the end of Compline (Night Prayer) between the first Sunday of Advent until the Feast of the Purification. Mentioned in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (“The Prioress’ Tale”), the hymn is ascribed to Hermannus Contractus (1013-1054), who based the hymn on the writings of Saints Fulgentius, Epiphanius, and Irenaeus of Lyon.

Rorate Caeli is based on Isaiah 45:8. In Advent, we use it as a hymn during Mass as well as at Vespers. It begins, "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down righteousness."

Anonymous IV, the thirteenth-century writer, attributed Beata Viscera to Perotin (c. 1160-1230); it is one of the few pieces from the Middle Ages for which we know the composer. A conductus piece from the Notre Dame school, Beata Viscera has a very modern strophic form; notably, the music wasn't based on any pre-existing chant.

Puer natus in Bethlehem ("A child is born in Bethlehem") is based on a 13th-century text; the music is a 14th-century Benedictine processional chant. We place Sub tuum praesidium on January 1, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. It is the oldest hymn to the Theotokos (BVM), found in a Coptic Orthodox Christmas liturgy of the 3rd century.

Under thy protection
we seek refuge,
Holy Mother of God;
despise not our petitions
in our needs,
but from all dangers
deliver us always,
Virgin Glorious and Blessed.

Next, we move to some Lenten favorites. Jesu, dulcis memoria is a 12th-century chant attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). We sing it at Mass, often filling it out harmonically with drones or with organ accompaniment.

Ave Regina caelorum is one of the most restful chants on the album, due to its melodic structure. Traditionally, this 12th-century chant is sung after Compline from Candlemas (Feb. 2) until Wednesday of Holy Week (before retiring to bed).

The penitential Parce, Domine is based on Joel 2:17. The melody paints a picture of supplication; we sing this chant during Lent especially.

The Vespers hymn Ave maris stella ("Hail Star of the Sea") was one of the hits of the Middle Ages, though it can be dated as far back as the 8th century. The melody combines aspects of invocation and supplication, and somehow always sounds new and pure. We put it here for the Annunciation (March 25).

For the fourth Sunday in Lent, we sing the exquisite Introit, Laetare Jerusalem ("Rejoice Jerusalem"). This Sunday is commonly known as Laetare Sunday, named after this Introit; on this Sunday, the rigors of Lent are relaxed a bit, for instance, the color of the vestments are rose instead of purple.

Moving on to Holy Week, we sing the plainchant version of Ave verum Corpus; this short Eucharistic hymn was written by Pope Innocent VI in the 14th century. On Holy Thursday, we follow the chant with one of the great polyphonic settings of the text.

We chant Vidi aquam at the Easter Vigil (it is then used throughout Eastertide, replacing the Asperges me). The text, from the vision of the temple in Ezekiel 47, is brought to life by the chant which rises and falls like a burbling stream.

I saw water flowing from the temple,
on the right side, alleluia:
And all to whom that water came
have been saved, and they will say, alleluia.

Regina caeli is sung during Eastertide, and is one of the four seasonal Marian plainchant hymns. It dates from at least the 12th century, and celebrates the resurrection.

The Easter Sunday liturgy has its own particular element: the sublime sequence Victimae paschali laudes. This treasure of Gregorian chant is one of three sequences that the Church still uses (there were many more in the past). It has been attributed to Wipo of Burgundy (995-1048), priest and scribe to Holy Roman Emperor Conrad II.

Probably the most popular Latin text, the Ave Maria dates from the 13th century. We sing the plainchant version, which we use in many contexts.

For Pentecost, we decided to record Hildegard von Bingen's O ignee Spiritus, a hymn to the Holy Spirit, whose melody leaps as flames:

O fiery Spirit, praise be to you, who play upon the timbrel and the lyre.
The minds of human beings are ablaze from you and the tabernacles of their souls contain their forces.
Thence the will ascends and bestows goodness on the soul, and its lantern is desire.
Hence, all creatures who from you have life, praise you,
for you are a most precious ointment for broken and fetid wounds,
when you convert them into the most precious jewels.
Now deign us all to gather ourselves to you and direct us towards righteous paths. Amen.

We end this album with Panis angelicus, which we sing with the other hymns written for Corpus Christi by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Panis angelicus is actually the penultimate strophe of the hymn "Sacris solemniis"; one of the most popular Latin texts, the plainchant has been neglected in favor of Franck's version, recorded by Pavarotti, Carreras, and Domingo!



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Beautiful, pure renditions of favorites
There are many lovely albums of Gregorian chant as well as Hildegard Von Bingen's music. What makes this stand out is not only how well the music is sung but also that they are our favorite hymns, not the more obscure chants we aren't likely to sing along with. Thank you, Gotham Chant, for this musical gift.