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date: 09 December 2019


  • Ruth Steiner
  • , revised by David Hiley


Liturgical book of the Western Church containing some chants for the Mass. The term appears in Ordo romanus I (compiled in the late 7th or early 8th century and describing the papal Mass at Rome), where it refers to the book from which the cantor sings the gradual and the alleluia or tract: ‘Postquam legerit cantor cum cantatorio ascendit et dicit responsum. Si fuerit tempus ut dicat alleluia, bene; sin autem, tractum; sin minus, tantummodo responsum’ (see Andrieu, ii, p.86; some of the manuscripts call for another singer to perform the alleluia). Other early references to the cantatorium show that it was a liturgical book, but they are less specific about its contents and use (see Blaise, 128, and Mittellateinisches Wörterbuch, ii/2, Munich, 1969, p.187; see also Hucke).

From this it has been inferred that the cantatorium was a book containing only graduals, alleluias and tracts, that is, chants performed by the cantor or soloists rather than by the choir. Three early manuscripts seem to correspond to this definition: one, dating from the beginning of the 9th century, in the Tesoro of Monza Cathedral (see Hesbert); another of the same period and character, of which fragments survive at Trier, Berlin and Cleveland (see Siffrin); and a manuscript with musical notation from the beginning of the 10th century (...

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