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The following represents various early medieval chants. (If you don't have RealPlayer, you may have to download it.)

Greek Orthodox Chant

Hymns from the Liturgical Tradition of the Orthodox Christian Church (Select some pieces to get a flavor)

Western Latin Chant

NOTE:To access the following site, you will need your UCD Kerberos login. Go to your MyUCDavis site, and you'll see a list of eleven different pieces of music. Download them and play them in conjunction with the following transcriptions.

1. SAINT AMBROSE (c. 340-397 CE)

Saint Ambrose (c. 340-397) is credited with introducing hymn-singing to the Christian liturgy, though in fact Christians had continued Jewish practice since their first formation. However, he was a creative genius, and he wrote a large number of hymns in iambic dimeter (two measures, four feet); the regular rhythm of these hymns and their simple, syllabic melodies made them easy to sing, and produced a kind of hypnotic rhythm. The following hymn, sung by the monks at dawn, every Sunday morning, raises all the fears about the night (lost ways, night spirits, uncertain sailing) in order to dispell them. The rooster wakens the monks, but he also reminds them of Peter's betrayal of his master, the greatest sin ever committed in darkness. From this comes a promise to begin life all over again at morning, to heal and to re-commit in a new world.

AETERNE rerum conditor,
Noctem diemque qui regis
Et temporum das tempora,
Ut alleves fastidium,
Eternal founder of the world,
who rules night and day
and gives changes in due season
to relieve our weariness,
Praeco diei jam sonat,
Noctis profundae pervigil,
Nocturna lux viantibus,
A nocte noctem segregans.
The herald of the day now sounds out,
ever watchful through the depth of night
and as helpful as a light in the dark is to travellers,
marking off one night-watch from another.
Hoc excitatus lucifer
Solvit polum caligine,
Hoc omnis erronum chorus
Vias nocendi deserit.
Roused by his call, the sun
dissolves the sky from darkness
and the whole band of wandering spirits
abandons the paths of mischief.
Hoc nauta vires colligit
Pontique mitescunt freta,
Hoc ipse petra ecclesiae
Canente culpam diluit.
At his call the sailor regains his courage,
the seas grow calm;
and it was at cockcrow that the very rock of the church
washed white his sin.
Surgamus ergo strenue,
Gallus jacentes excitat,
Et somnolentos increpat,
Gallus negantes arguit.
Let us therefore rise promptly.
The cock rouses those who are asleep,
rebukes the drowsy,
and denounces those who will not get up.
Gallo canente spes redit,
Aegris salus refunditur,
Mucro latronis conditur,
Lapsis fides revertitur.
When the cock crows hope returns,
health is restored to the sick,
the robber's sword is sheathed,
and faith returns to the fallen.
Jesu, labentes respice
Et nos videndo corrige;
Si respicis, lapsus cadunt,
Fletuque culpa solvitur.
Look on us, Jesus, in our wavering,
and seeing us correct us;
for if you look on us our sins leave us
and our guilt is washed away in tears.
Tu lux refulge sensibus
Mentisque somnum discute,
Te nostra vox primum sonet,
Et vota solvamus tibi.
Be you a light, shine into our minds,
and dispel sleep from our souls.
May the first act of our voices be to sing of you,
and so may we keep our promises to you.


Composed around 350, this is the great hymn of victory and celebration, also syllabic and also easy to sing, well within the natural range of most people. There are elements of Jewish traditional Torah chanting ("cantillations") in the middle of this hymn.

Te Deum laudamus : te Dominum confitemur.
*We praise You, O God: we acknowledge You to be the Lord.
Te aeternum Patrem omnis terra veneratur.
Tibi omnes Angeli, tibi Caeli, et universae Potestates :
Tibi Cherubim et Seraphim incessabili voce proclamant :
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sun caeli et terra majestatis gloriae tuae.
Te glotiosus Apostolorum chorus,
Te Prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
Te Martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae majestatis;
Venerandum tuum verum et unicum Filium;
Sanctum quoque Paraclitum Spiritum.
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
Tu, ad liberandum suscepturus hominem, non horruisti Virginis uterum
Tu, devicto mortis aculeo, aperuisti credentibus regna caelorum.
Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes, in gloria Patris.
Judex crederis esse venturus.
Te ergo quae sumus, tuis famulis subveni, quos pretioso sanguine redemisti.
Aeterna fac cum Sanctis tuis in gloria numerari.
Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
Per singulos dies benedicimus te;
Et laudamus nomen tuum in saeculum et in saeculum saeculi.
Dignare, Domine, die isto sine peccato nos custodire.
Miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri.
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos, quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi : non confundar in aeternum.
*O Lord, in You have I trusted: let me never be confounded.

*All the earth worships You: the Father everlasting.
*To You all Angels cry aloud: the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
*To You Cherubin, and Seraphin: continually do cry,
*Holy, Holy, Holy: Lord God of Sabaoth;
*Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty: of Your Glory.
*The glorious company of the Apostles praise You.
*The noble army of Martyrs: praise You.
*The holy Church throughout all the world: acknowledges You;
*The Father: of an infinite Majesty;
*Your are honourable, true: and only Son.
*Also the Holy Ghost: the Comforter.
*You are the King of Glory: O Christ.
*You are the everlasting Son: of the Father.
*When You took upon You to deliver man: You did not abhor the Virgin's womb.
*When You had overcome the sharpness of death: You did open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
*You sit at the right hand of God: in the Glory of the Father.
*We believe that You shall come: to be our Judge.
*We therefore pray You, help Your servants: whom You have redeemed with Your precious blood.
*Make them to be numbered with Your Saints: in glory everlasting.
*O Lord, save Your people: and bless Your heritage.
*Govern them: and lift them up for ever.
*Day by day: we magnify You;
*And we worship Your Name: ever world without end.
*Vouchsafe, O Lord: to keep us this day without sin.
*O Lord, have mercy upon us: have mercy upon us.
*O Lord, let Your mercy lighten upon us: as our trust is in You.


The hymn, attributed to the time of Symmachus, Bishop of Rome (498-514), is based on the angels' song at the nativity (Luke 2:8-9; 13-14). Also syllabic, it was sung to many medodies, of which one of the most common can be seen here (in Gregorian notation):

Gloria transcription

Gloria in excelsis Deo.P: Glory to God in the highest.
Et in terra pax hominibus bonaeC: And on earth peace to people
voluntatis. Laudamus te.of good will. We praise You.
Benedicimus te. Adoramus te.We bless You. We worship You.
Glorificamus te. Gratiam agimusWe glorify You. We thank
tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.you for your great glory.
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, DeusLord God, heavenly King, God
Pater omnipotens. Domine Filithe Father almighty. Lord, Son
unigenite, Jesu Christe.only-begotten, Jesus Christ.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, FiliusLord God, Lamb of God, Son of the
Patris. Qui tollis peccataFather. You who take away the R>sins
mundi, miserere nobis. Quiof the world, have mercy on us. You who
tollis peccata mundi, suscipetake away the sins of the world, receive
deprecationem nostram. Quiour prayer. You who
sedes ad dexteram Patris,sit at theright hand of the Father,
miserere nobis. Quoniam tuhave mercy on us. For You
solus Sanctus. Tu solusalone are holy. You alone are
Dominus. Tu solus Altissimus,Lord. You alone are the Most High,
Jesu Christe. Cum Sancto Jesus Christ, with the Holy,
Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Spirit in the Glory of God the Father.

This plea for mercy was one of the earliest prayers in Christian ceremony. When liturgical language was changed from Greek to Latin in the early Middle Ages, this simple prayer was preserved in Greek as a connection with the past. The concept of repetition is essential to all celebration.
P. Kyrie eleison.P: Lord, have mercy.
S. Kyrie eleison.S: Lord, have mercy.
P. Kyrie eleison.P: Lord, have mercy.
S. Christe eleison.S: Christ, have mercy.
P. Christe eleison.P: Christ, have mercy
S. Christe eleison.S: Christ, have mercy.
P. Kyrie eleison.P: Lord, have mercy.
S. Kyrie eleison.S: Lord, have mercy.
P. Kyrie eleison.P: Lord, have mercy.


One of the first changes to chant in the period of liturgical expansion and elaboration was "troping," adding extra phrases to the musical score. These could be changed from feast to feast, and allowed creativity in their composition.

Kyrie fons bonitas
Pater ingenite, a quo bona cuncta procedunt: eleison.

O Lord, fountain of goodness, Father unbegotten, from whom all good things come: have mercy.

Kyrie quir patre Natum
mundi pro crimine ipsum ut salvaret misisti: eleison.

O Lord, who Himself sent the Son, to suffer for the sin of the world so that he might save it: have mercy.


An "Introit" is the entrance chant at the beginning of the service. Musically, this is an example of "melisma," in which many notes are sung on the same syllable. It can be extremely elaborate, and reminded its hears of honey, hence its name (Latin "mel").

Respice in me, et miserere mei, quoniam unicus et pauper sum ego.
Tribulationes cordis mei dilatate sunt, et de necessitatibus meis eripe me.
Vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum, et dimitte omnia peccata mea.
Respice inimicos meos, quoniam multiplicati sunt, et hodio iniquo hoderunt me.
Custodi animam meam, et eripe me. Non confundar, quoniam invocavi te.
Innocentes et recti adheserunt michi, quoniam sustinui te, Domine.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased and how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.
Redeem Israel, O God, from all their troubles!


This is another melismatic entrance chant, also based on the same Psalm 25.

Respice in me, et miserere mei, quoniam unicus et pauper sum ego.
Tribulationes cordis mei dilatate sunt, et de necessitatibus meis eripe me.
Vide humilitatem meam et laborem meum, et dimitte omnia peccata mea, Deus meus.


This hymn is a sequence, a third inovation in chant during this era. This was an original composition that changed considerably in the seven hundred years of its development, but still retained a tradition of one note for every syllable, and pairs of lines--sometimes, as below, within pairs of lines, in the case below, rhyming. This hymn is one of the most famous. Note its strong rhythms

Veni, sancte Spiritus,
Et emitte caelitus
Lucis tuae radium.
Come, Holy Spirit,
and send forth from heaven
the ray of your light.
Veni, pater pauperum;
Veni, dator munerum;
Veni, lumen cordium.
Come, father of the poor;
come, giver of gifts;
come, light of hearts.
Consolator optime,
Dulcis hospes animae,
Dulce refrigerium,
Best of all comforters,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet refreshment,
In labore requies,
In aestu temperies,
In fletu solatium,
Rest in labor,
coolness in the heat,
comfort in distress,
O lux beatissima,
Reple cordis intima
Tuorum fidelium.
O most blessed light,
fill the inmost hearts
of your faithful.
Sine tuo numine
Nihil est in lumine,
Nihil est innoxium.
Without your power,
nothing is endowed with light
and nothing is sinless.
Lava quod est sordidum,
Riga quod est aridum,
Rege quod est devium.
Cleanse what is filthy,
water what is parched,
straighten what is crooked
Fove quod est frigidum,
Flecte quod est rigidum,
Sana quod est saucium;
Bend what is stubborn,
warm what is cold,
heal what is wounded;
Da tuis fidelibus
In te confidentibus
Sacrum septenarium.
Give to your faithful
who put their trust in you
your sevenfold holy gifts;
Da virtutis meritum,
Da salutis exitum,
Da perenne gaudium.
Give virtue its reward,
give salvation in the end,
give everlasting joy.


This is an elaborate hymn to St. Nicholas.
Cantu miro, summa laudeCantu miro, summa laude
1a, Cantu miro, summa laude,1a, With wondrous song, with peerless praise,
summo viro vir aplaudeman, applaud that peerless man
qui confortat,who solaces,
1b. Cuius dextra largitatis1b. the hand of whose largesse
intus extra desolatisbrings relief to those desolate
opem portat.within and without.
2a. Pietatis hic patronus2a. This compassionate protector
gravitatis fugat onusputs to flight the burden of distress
hoc good gravat;that weighs down;
2b. Presens orbi consolator,2b. a comforter throughout the world,
salus morbi et curatora remedy and healer of disease,
quos vult lavathe cleanses whom he will.
3a. Sedat fluctus procelosos3a. He calms the stormy waves
naute luctus lacrimososwhen he looks upon the sailors'
dum revisit;tearful struggles;
3b. Patri defert mersum natum3b. To a father he restores his drowned son
quando refert vas auratumwhen he brings back the golden vessel
quod promisit.which the father had vowed.
4a. Ille parens fit iocundus,4a. Another parent is filled with joy,
ter apparens auri pondus,whom the saint enriched, a mass of gold
quem ditavit,arriving thrice,
4b. Quo tres presto venumclari,4b. With which he brought back
ab infesto lupanarifrom the dangerous brothel
revocavit.his three daughters, about to be sold.
5a. Tres consortes liberavit5a. He revived the three companions
quos occulte trucidavitwhom a guilty innkeeper
hospes reus;slaughtered stealthily;
5b. Reddit furans quod furatur;5b. the thief gives his theft back;
deum curans baptizaturat this, turning to God, the Jew
hinc ludeus.is baptized.
6a. Ergo Christe, fili dei,6a. Therefore, Christ, Son of God,
per quem iste, causa spei,you through whom this man, the cause of hope,
Ut sol micat,gleams like the sun,
Sb. Hac in die plebs festiva6b. may your people on this festive day
tibi pie mente vivabless you devotedly
benedicat.with ardent mind.