Friel 2alleluia, tract, sequence, offertory, and communion). There are also three proper prayers towhich the priest gives voice as ingredients of the
(namely, the Collect, Secret/Prayer over the Gifts, and Post-Communion), but attention here will be given to the seven “sub-genres”of propers generally executed by the choir.The first such category within the
is the introit, which originally took the form of a festal, processional antiphon chanted together with psalm verses (or even a whole psalm, in the Old Roman form). In their modern Gregorian form, however, each introit includesonly one brief verse.
It is the first words, or incipits, of these introits that have given traditionalnames to the feasts of the liturgical year (e.g.,
Mass, etc.). The texts of the introits are, almost without exception, Scriptural,and roughly two in three are taken from the psalms. Melodically, each introit is very unique.Whereas the ancient chants for antiphons in the Divine Office often overlap with similarities (astheir vast number almost requires), the chants for these introits, which share the antiphonal form,appear to have been consciously crafted to be unique.
The collection of introits displays a wideselection of modes (all eight) and an aversion to cadential similarity, such that each introit isvery memorable and recognizable.
Yet, while the introits are melodically quite disparate, theyare at the same time very homogeneous in form, length, and style. Their common form is anantiphon with a single psalm verse, the
, and the repeated antiphon; their length is
1. Josef A. Jungmann,
The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development
, vol. 1, trans., Francis A.Brunner (New York: Benziger Brothers, 1959), 324-325.2. James McKinnon,
The Advent Project: The Later-Seventh-Century Creation of the Roman Mass Proper
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). This landmark work hypothesizes that the musical complexity andannual organization of the introits are evidence that their composition was the work of an elite
,likely during a time of peace and prosperity (namely, the seventh century).3. David Hiley,
Western Plainchant: A Handbook
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 109-116.