Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/434

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390

AMBROSIAN 390 AMBROSIAN "De Music&" at about the time that St. Ambrose wrote his hymns, gives us an idea as to the form which the melodies must have had originally. He de- fines music as "the science of moving well " {xcientia bene movendi) and the Iambic foot as consistmg "of a short and a long, of three beats". As in the case of .St. Ambrose we have poet and composer in one person, it is but natural to suppose that his melodies took the form and rhythm of his verses. The fact that these hymns were intended to be sung by the whole congregation, over which, according to the Arians, the saint cast a magic spell by means of his music, also speaks in favour of their havmg been syllabic in character and simple in rhythm. For several centuries it has been held that St. Ambrose composed what are now termed antiphons and re- sponsories. There is no satisfactory proof that such is the case. The fact that he introduced the antiph- onal (alternate) mode of singing the psalms and his own hymns (each of the latter had eight stanzas), by dividing the congregation into two choirs, prol> ably gave rise to this opinion. The rcsponsory as practised by directio^i of St. Ambrose consisted in intoning the verse of a psalm by one or more chanters and the repetition of the same by the congregation. Guido .Maria Dreves, S.J., F. A. Gevaert, Hugo Riemann, and others have endeavoured to show how the melodies belonging to the authentic Ambrosian texts lia-e Ijeen transmitted to posterity and what rhytliinical and melodic changes they have suffered inthe course of time in different countries. Dreves first consulted the "Psalterium, cantica et hymni aliaque divinis officiis ritu Ambrosiano psallendis communia modulationibus opportunis notata Fred- erici [Borromeo] Cardinalis Archiepiscopi jussu edita. Mediolani apud hseredes Pacifici Pontii et Joannem Baptistam Piccaleum irapressorem archiepiscopa- lem, MDCXIX" and the complete Ambrosian man- uscript Hymnary in the Bibliotheca Trivulziana in Milan, which two works are most likely to contain the best traditions. The melodies as they appea,red in these works were then compared with manuscripts of the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries at Naples, Monza, Prague, Heiligen Kreuz, St. Florian (Austria), Nevers (France), and Colding- ham (Scotland), preserved by the Cistercian monks, who from the foundation of their order had used the Ambrosian hymnary and not the Roman. This com[)arison made it possible to eliminate the many mclismatic accretions and modifications received, evidently, at the hands of singers who were influ- enced by the taste of their times and found the orig- inal melodic simplicity unsatisfactory. As to the rhythm, it must be remembered that the Ambrosian, like all plain-chant melodies, lost their rhythm in the course of the Middle Ages. They were tran- scribed from the ancient neumatic notation into square notes of equal length, the time given to them being determined by the text syllables to which they were sung. Bearing in mind St. Augustine's defi- nition, and the nature of Greek music, and also the fact that in St. Ambrose's time accent had not over- shadowed quantity in poetry, we see that Dreves is ju.stified in his mode of restoring the melodies, at least as far as their rhythm is concerned. Inasmuch as .all the hymns are written in the same metre, the melodies may bo, and imdoubtedly have been, used interchangeably. The following illustrations will give us an idea of the dilTerent forms of the same melody in the various codices. The melody to the hymn ".^Eterne rerum Conditor", according to the above-mentioned Psalterium and the hymnary of the Bibliotheca Trix'ulziana, we reprodticc imdcr (a). Under (b) we will give the same time as it is cnn- taincd in a codex of St. Florian dating from the fourteenth century. Under (c) is the same melody 08 restored by Droves, stripped of its added notes, and in the rhythmical form which it probably had originally. gis, Et tem - po - rum das tem - po - Ut al - le-ves fa - sti - di-ura. The hymn "Splendor paternse glori.T" exists in more dilTerent forms than the one which we have con- sidered above. Version (a) gives the form of the mel- ody as it reads in the Psalterium; (b), as it is in the antiphonary of Nevers of the twelfth century; (c),the version contained in a codex of the thirteenth cen- tury in the National Library at Naples; under (d), as it is found in an antiphonary of the fourteenth cen- tury in St. Florian, Austria, and, finally, (e) gives us the restored and, probably, the original form.