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date: 19 November 2019

Gallican chantlocked

  • Michel Huglo,
  • Jane Bellingham
  •  and Marcel Zijlstra


The composite of traditions of monophonic liturgical music used in the churches of Gaul before the imposition of ‘Roman’ chant by the Carolingian kings Pippin (reigned 751–68) and Charlemagne (768–814). Although the music of the Gallican rite was almost completely suppressed before the appearance of notation in the 9th century, remnants of this tradition, though heterogeneous in style, are thought to survive in the Gregorian repertory and elsewhere. The term ‘Gallican’ is also occasionally used in the sense ‘non-Roman’, so that ‘Gallican chant’ may mean, in older literature especially, the repertories of the Iberian Peninsula, the Celtic areas and northern Italy (including Milan), as well as of Gaul itself.

The 5th century was a period of considerable importance in the history of medieval Gaul and in particular for the Gallican Church. The end of this century saw the establishment of Frankish rule in Gaul by Clovis (d 511), first of the Merovingian kings, who converted to Christianity in 496. The Franks eventually extended their kingdom to a territory covering, roughly, modern France, Switzerland, the Low Countries, and Germany west of the Rhine, an area (commonly known as Francia) that later formed the core of the Carolingian empire. The early Merovingian kings inherited the ecclesiastical traditions and liturgical forms of the Gallo-Roman population, which was mostly centred in what is now southern France and which, by the mid-5th century, was solidly Catholic. From this population comes the earliest evidence of the Gallican liturgy....

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