Happy New Year everyone!

As part of my “resolutions” I would really love to learn how to chant the Office. Currently I have the Farnborough edition of the Monastic Diurnal. I have no musical background at all, (do not know how to read music in any form) but would still love to be able to chant at least parts of the Office. Does anyone here have any suggestions and/or tips?

In Latin or in English?

For Latin, the main issue will be the hymns, the antiphons and the psalm tones.

For the psalm tones, even though some of them presented here are somewhat out-of-date, try this site, the basics are correct: Psalmody

You’ll need to learn how to interpret square notation though. This might help: Square notes

I would prefer Latin, but if English is easier then I could start with that. Ill check out the links.

It’s definitely easier in Latin, the rules are well established and the psalm tones are designed around Latin accentuation.

Is there any sites where I can listen to the chants as well? I’m reading through the other links and I’m having issues understanding, since I am musically illiterate hah.

Youtube and Google are your friends. You might not be able to find all the antiphons chanted there but certainly some of the more difficult ones. The antiphon “Hodie” for instance, for the Magnificat at Vespers on Christmas:

Hodie Christus natus est

Then find the musical score for it and follow along:

Hodie Christus natus est score

Basically it’s a 4 line staff; the higher the line, the higher the note. Superposed notes (one directly on top of the other, called a “podatus”), one goes from lower to higher. Otherwise, which ever note comes first, is the one chanted first.

During Advent and the Octave of Christmas had chanting in English of all or portions of the Hours. I even got very comfortable chanting the Morning Prayer, especially the Canticle of Zechariah, by the third day or so.

I went back to several days of Morning Prayer, but those MP3 files didn’t seem to be there any longer. Now that the New Year is here, the MP 3 files have gone back to spoken prayer. Just when I was starting to get it.

Theirs is a ministry of love and devotion so they are continually trying to enhance and improve the site. They are very open to those making suggestions regarding the hymns and music.

God bless

Thank you for all your replies. I would really like to learn how to read the notation, as well as learn how to use my voice. Was anyone else here a real beginner and worked their way up to being able to chant the Office?

Me. Actually I started chanting with the Proper and Ordinary of the Mass, from scratch. Like you couldn’t read a note of music. I learned at age 44 (I’m now 52). Joined a small choir, was hopeless, so the Benedictine monk who led the choir at that time gave me a couple of private sessions at the abbey (in the cloister!) and I’ve been chanting ever since.

In the last three years I have learned to chant the Office. A couple of years ago I had to prepare chant books for a chant colloquium, and as part of it I had to point the psalms (indicate where the notes change for the median and the finale in the psalmody) and that’s where I learned how to really psalmody. All in Latin. Sometimes I psalmody in French but Latin is way easier.

OraLabora has English chant today in Morning Prayer. I think you have to listen to the spoken Psalms, Reading, Responsory to the chanted Antiphon and Canticle of Zechariah and Our Father. I am not aware of a way to skip the spoken part.

If you are able to listen I would like to hear what you think. Thank you

Not a fan alas. Try this instead for a chanted Magnificat in Latin:

Magnificat mode 1g

You may want the Liber Usualis. for the hard copy. for the pdf file. it’s 115.32 Mb, took me about 13 mins to download with DSL.

This new English Edition of the Liber Usualis gives a brief summary of
the Rules for the proper execution and interpretation of the Vatican Edition of the
Roman Chant, according to the Solesmes Method.
The Vatican Edition contains the Official Musical Text. To ensure uniformity
in the rendering of the Chant of the Church, ecclesiastical legislation
provides that this musical text may be used " with the addition of the Solesmes
Rhythmic signs", as an aid.
The use of these signs is officially authorised by the Congregation of Rites.
Musicians, generally, have long since experienced the wisdom and even the
necessity of this official sanction to the Solesmes Method as the sure means to
secure a desired and uniform system of interpretation.
As in all Art-forms, so in Plainsong, rules are the outcome of a wide practical
experience, insight and research. The Rules presented here have been worked
out and co-ordinated by the Benedictine monks of the Solesmes Congregation.
Based as they are on the ancient Manuscript Records, which have been thoroughly
examined in their application to the Vatican text, those Rules have for some fifty
years proved their efficacy as a convincing guide to the proper unified execution
of the Gregorian melodies in the daily carrying out of the Liturgy by the monks
of Solesmes themselves.
Our Holy Father, Pope Pius XI, in an autograph letter to His Eminence
Cardinal Dubois, on the occasion of the Founding of the Gregorian Institute, at
Paris, in 1924, writes : " We commend you no less warmly for having secured
the services of these same Solesmes monks to teach in the Paris Institute;
since, on account of their perfect mastery of the subject, they interpret
Gregorian music with a finished perfection which leaves nothing to be
desired ".
With this quotation of an august commendation, the present Edition is now
offered by the Solesmes monks, that the Roman Chant may be a profitable
instrument "capable of raising the mind to God, and better fitted than any
other to foster the piety of the Nations ".
This Edition with complete musical notation includes the following:

  1. The Kyriale with Cantus ad libitum.
  2. The Mass of the Sundays and Feasts including those of double rank
    throughout the year, with Vespers and Compline for the same.
  3. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, for Sundays and Feasts of the First and Second
  4. Matins of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi; Lauds for Feasts
    of the First Class.
  5. The Litanies: the Mass of Rogation Days, Ember Days, Easter and
    Whitsun weeks; the Vigils of Christmas, Epiphany and Whitsun.
  6. The services of Ash Wednesday, the Triduum of Holy Week and
    Easter Day.
  7. The principal Votive Masses and the Offices for the Dead.

Rules for Interpretation

The Pitch.
It must be clearly understood that in Plainsong the notation is not and was
never meant to indicate the absolute but only the relative pitch of the melodic
intervals. The two Clefs of Doh and Fah, and their different positions, have
no other aim than to make possible or easier the writing of the melodies on the
stave. Often these clefs could be interchanged, their positions could be different,
as, in fact, is the case in the Manuscripts of Plainsong. It must, therefore, be
well understood that the notes read on the stave are to be sung at the pitch which
is within the compass of the singers, according to the size of the building, and
the special character of the piece.

enjoy :slight_smile:

If you download form

page the Liber Usualis, between page 17 and 39 (pdf paging) you will find a good
introduction to the Gregorian notation, and from page 224 you will find the basic
tones of the Roman office. The Antiphonale and Vesperale also may be useful form the same site

This is for the Roman Breviary, the Monastic chant is slightly different,
especially the psalm tones are different. I do not know website for the
monastic tones, but for borrowed books I collected the monastic psalm
tone distribution. If you download from


page file, and after extracting run it with ‘officium/notes.bat’
(instead of officium.exe) command, selecting Pre Tident monastic version
for Psalms and Hymns it will show the psalm scheme and the notes themselves
for part of that version. Please note that this is not the 1962 calendar
exactly not any verified calendar for the monastic office, only those
Saints are represented form the permanent Calendar, which are mentioned
in the Roman Canon of the Mass.

The monastic tones are in the new Antiphonale Monasticum and Antiphonale Romanum II available for purchase on the Solesmes website. Those are the tones that I use.

The current Roman Office, as evidenced by the new Antiphonale Romanum put out by Solesmes, uses the same tones as the Monastic Office now. The tones in the Liber Usualis are obsolete for the modern Roman Office.

My understanding

is that the Antiphonale Romanum II is for the Liturgy of the Hours, 4 week cycle. The original poster indicated using the Farborough (?) diurnal the 1962 one week cycle version.

The 1962 books are not obsoleted.

Farnborough Diurnal is the Monastic Office, so the OP should be using the Monastic tones from the 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum. They are also slightly different than the current Monastic tones; the latter incorporate minor changes to interpretation based on the latest semiological research but can essentially be considered identical to the current Monastic tones; most communities are in any case using the 1934 tones as the newer ones only date from 2005, and you don’t change the habits of monks who have been chanting the same way for 60 years that easily ;). But they are considerably different from the Liber Usualis tones.

By “monastic” I should specify Benedictine. The Carthusians and some Cistercians have their own variants.

I recommend this site:
In this site you will find The Liturgy of the Hours in Latin and Spanish.
There are audio recording for each psalm and canticle for Lauds and Vesper.
At least you can imitate the tones and try chanting the psalms.

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