The Gregorian Chart : Part of England’s Ancestral Music

Information about ancestral music in England revealed that the Gregorian Chant is only one of several liturgical chants developed during the medieval era. In the modern world, albeit we associate chants as part of the Catholic church’s rites, most of us think that all chants are one and the same, a Gregorian Chant. In a way, this was true; but only until later, when the Roman Catholic Church sought the standardisation of liturgies.

Music of the medieval era (between 500 and 1400 A.D.) was largely a mixture of English folksongs, instrumental melodies and liturgical music that included chants. Since the then leaders of the Catholic church had great influence over monarchs, Rome had since then served as the religious centre of Western European countries. However, different regions developed and adopted different chants in celebrating the Mass, which at the same time distinguished regions and their religious practices for public worship.

Although the Catholic church in England had the support of the English monarchy, the European countries regarded as important centres of Catholic religion at that time were Rome, Spain, Milan and Gaul. So it came to be that as chants were developed by each region, different liturgies for celebrating Masses also came with variations in each region. The chants developed by Spain and Portugal had called attention as having North African musical influence suggestive of the Mozarabians, or the Iberian Christians living under Moorish rules.

Why the Gregorian Chant Became the Most Prominent Musical Liturgy of the Catholic Church

At that time, around the early Middle Ages, the Kingdoms of Germany, Italy, Bohemia and Burgundy had established what was known as The Holy Roman Empire. The latter though, was dissolved in 1806 by then French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Prior to its dissolution, the Roman Catholic Church through the leadership of Pope Gregory I had sought to standardise the rules and rituals practiced throughout nations aligned with The Holy Roman Empire. The standardisation mainly involved combining the liturgies practiced by the Roman Catholic Church and the Gallican Catholic Church. That way regions will have formed stronger alliances with the help of the Roman Catholic Church.

The standardisation movement likewise included replacing the different chants used by different regions in celebrating Catholic public worships. Since the development of the chant was under the supervision of Pope Gregory I, the chant that all Roman Catholic Churches came to use became known as the Gregorian Chant.

Charlemagne, who ruled most nations of Western Europe during the medieval era, had provided assistance to Pope Gregory I, by tasking monks to travel throughout The Holy Roman Empire and to teach the Gregorian Chant. In time, around the 12th and 13th centuries, the Gregorian Chant had replaced all other forms of chants used in celebrating Roman Catholic Masses.

As the events in world history transpired, and the Roman Catholic Churches came to be challenged by Puritans, the power and influence of Roman Catholic leaders among many Europeans also diminished. Today, England allows multi-faith practices, although Protestantism is the predominant religion in England today.


Juice land website, the sponsor of this guest ancestral music blog, also noted that Catholic Churches no longer require priests to use Gregorian Chants in celebrating masses. Although there were attempts to revive the Gregorian Chant during the 20th century, there seemed to be little support for its revival.