Dom Pothier wrote a reply dated the 8th of April:
... bring us as many details as possible. What do the variations in the chant or the text consist of? ... we must have a good analysis of it; it is on that analysis that we will base the research needed to understand the nature of the variations, their origins and their cause ... the more numerous and the more accurate the details, the narrower the scope of the guesswork will be. ... Traditions thrived in prior times; at St. Peter's they still use not only ancient hymns, but even a special Psalter that dates from far back.
|Dom André Mocquereau (1849-1930)|
Contrary to this view, fellow Benedictine Dom Raphael Andoyer, who after analysing the same sources, expressed the opinion in 1911-12 that they actually represented an earlier stage of musical development than that of Gregorian - a stage he defined as 'pre-Gregorian' (ante-grégorien). For Dom Andoyer, these melodies are the ones which Pope Gregory the Great organized and revised (thus he views Gregory's 'authorship' of plainchant, rather than composing it outright, in the strict sense) into what would become known as Gregorian chant.
|The introit Gaudeamus omnes for the|
feast of St. Henry of Finland,
from the Graduale Aboense (14th-15th c.)
We must note here a couple of interesting and inescapable questions, for which an explanation was needed: among the hundreds of medieval manuscripts of Gregorian chant, there is not one which is known to have been used or written at Rome before the mid-13th century, and the very few sources of definite Roman origin which date from before that period contain similar material to that of Gregorian books, but are different from a melodic point of view - and these manuscripts happen to be the ones which Dom Mocquereau discovered (and dismissed as late corruptions)!
In Stäblein's view, both the 'Old Roman', which he takes to be the one edited by Gregory the Great, and the newer 'Gregorian' - a later revision which he dated from the reign of Pope Vitalian (657-672) - coexisted and were being used simultaneously in Rome. Basing his argument on the evidence of an Ordo Romanus which ascribes an active interest in the revision of chant to eight Popes - from Damasus (366-384) to Martin (649-653) - and to three abbots of the Roman monastery of St. Peter (Catolenus, Marianus and Virbonus), Stäblein held that the three abbots are to be credited for the reformation of Roman chant.
Allowing for more or less personal emphases, other scholars (such as Fr. Stephen J.P. Van Dijk O.F.M., and Ewald Stammers) accepted Stäblein's idea of the coexistence of the two repertories, and also took into account a fact confirmed by liturgical historians, according to whom Rome had witnessed over a long period the coexistence of the Papal liturgy (which was undergoing a continual, yet gradual, process of reform) and the liturgy of the presbytal tituli, i.e. the parish churches served by non-Curial clergy.
In 1954, Michel Huglo published an exhaustive directory (Le chant 'vieux-romain': liste des manuscrits et temoins indirects, Sacris Erudiri 6) of Old Roman sources both direct - that is, Graduals and Antiphonaries - and indirect, demonstrating thereby that this chant was the official repertory at Rome towards the mid-8th century, in about 1140, and in the 13th century. Old Roman was thus to be seen as a local repertory of specifically Roman origin (like the Ambrosian chant of Milan or Beneventan chant) which had nonetheless spread into central Italy and had even left traces in the monastic centers of the Carolingian Empire (Stäblein has shown that it was in use as far away as St. Gall in present-day Switzerland in the 9th century) before Gregorian chant had gained the upper hand. Although he came to no conclusion regarding the origins of Gregorian chant, Huglo was prepared to state that Old Roman was the only form of chant familiar to the entire Roman clergy of the period; and this was a clear enough indication that the origins of Gregorian should be looked for outside Rome.
|Old Roman Chant: Tecum principium|
(courtesy of New Liturgical Movement)
Musicologist Helmut Hucke took up the challenge, when developing an alternative line of argument to that of Stäblein. In Hucke's view, the point of departure of Gregorian is Old Roman, which underwent a transformation in Frankish territory during the Carolingian era.
As everyone who has studied the history of the Roman Rite pretty much knows, the Roman liturgy starting from the Middle Ages is actually a hybrid between the Gallican family of rites and the original liturgy in use at Rome. It all started in 754, when the first King of the Franks, Pepin the Short decreed the adoption of the Papal liturgy in his kingdom. It was the time when the Roman liturgy, which until then, apart from the Anglo-Saxon mission Church, had possessed and laid claim to recognition only for Rome and its environs, advanced in a short time to becoming the liturgy of a great empire.
Of course, as soon as the Roman way of worship was introduced in Frankish territory, its started to absorb local elements. It is often related that Charlemagne, Pepin's son, once asked Pope Hadrian I to provide an authentic Roman sacramentary for use throughout the empire, which the latter sent to the court at Aachen around in the year 785-786. The intention was to preserve it as the authentic "standard" of the text attributed to Pope St. Gregory the Great and to disseminate it throughout all of Charlemagne's domain through copies, thereby unifying the whole empire under one liturgy - that of Rome. However, the sacramentary the Pope sent soon proved to be ill-suited to the Emperor's plan: it only contained the liturgy for certain feasts, which would make it ill-adapted to the daily liturgical needs of a parish! When complaints reached the ear of the Pope, his excuse was saying that he merely picked from the Lateran library what seemed to him to be the best sacramentary he had! Recognizing the obvious unsuitability of the book, the court liturgists decided to correct the text (especially its rather mediocre Latin) and then to augment it with a supplement - derived from the local traditions - so that it could serve for the daily liturgy. The result of this work is the Hadrianum, aka the Hadrian Sacramentary.
(above: Introit: Resurrrexi, sung by Ensemble Organum, from their album Chants de L'Eglise de Rome: Période Byzantine)
Eventually, this hybrid Roman-Frankish liturgy started creeping its way into the Eternal City itself, eventually supplanting its own parent altogether. Church life in Rome was stagnant during the saeculum obscurum of the first half of the 10th century; there was a liturgical vacuum, which the Gallo-Roman liturgy refilled. This took place both through the direct intervention of the Holy Roman Empire and by the settlement of the Cluniacs in monasteries of Rome or its neighborhood.
Hucke's idea was that Old Roman chant would have shared the same fate as that of the Roman liturgy, to which it is tagged: it would have encountered the Gallic repertories and would have been transformed into what would be known into later ages as 'Gregorian' not only by an inevitable process of 'contamination' but above all by being deliberately adapted for aesthetic reasons. Whatever the value of the latter motive, it should not be forgotten that musical notation did not exist yet, and the repertory would have been handed on by memory.
Hucke's idea received support from writers such as Willi Apel and Robert J. Snow, while Walther Lipphardt, although claiming that Gregorian chant was the Frankish version of a Roman original, maintained that the melodic material exported from Rome was accepted in Frankish domains without any modification; thus Gregorian would be nothing more than the Roman chant of the 9th century. Apart from this detail, these are the broad lines of the second hypothesis: the birth of Gregorian in what is now France as a result of the impact of Roman chant on the local Gallican traditions.
Part of the reason why Gregorian chant succeeded in gaining the upper hand, it seems, was facilitated by two factors: the invention of a process of writing the melody, which represents a turn in musical history, and its being attributed to one of the most famous characters in Christendom - Pope St. Gregory the Great.
After all, who could go wrong with Gregory's music? ;)