By Ruth M. Wilson
This book presents, for the first time, a history of English liturgical chant as performed in the Church of England and its transmission to churches in Scotland and the United States. In the mid-sixteenth century Reformation, the complex ritual of the latin rite was replaced by a one-volume Book of Common Prayer, in English. The general nature of the new rubrics, expecially for music, left many of the details of performance to be worked out in traditional ways. Thus the music evolved from its Latin roots in oral, and later, written practice. The body of music that makes up the chanting practice of Anglican and related churches around the world is indeed diversified. Some texts of the liturgy are harmonized in four or more voive parts, often with organ accompaniment, and others are sung in plainsong. The largest group of chants, those for the psalms and canticles, has an idiosyncratic written form and a performance practice that continues to evolve in oral tradition. This music is commonly known as Anglican chant. Its origins in the seventeenth century and its codification in the eighteenth are explored in the choral establishments of the Church of England and parish churches in England, Scotland, and the United States.