Gregorian Chant

Pater noster

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Pater Noster is Latin for Our Father, one of the most common prayers in Christian religions. In medieval times it was usually recited in Latin, even by illiterates and the uneducated, and it would not become known as the Lord's Prayer until the Renaissance era. Although the Pater Noster is a part of the mass, coming between the Consecration and Communion, it is not usually sung by the congregation or choir. Nevertheless, there are numerous Gregorian Pater Nosters. During Latin High Masses, for instance, a Gregorian Pater Noster was typically sung by the priest. The first surviving versions evolved from local ones, in so-called anaphoral chant style, and began appearing in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Three different Pater Nosters emerged during this period, two from Southern Italy and the third probably from France, and served as a springboard for later versions. The first two are similar and sung in an extremely limited vocal range, sounding more motivic than melodic. The third has a different melody but still features a narrow singing range. A new version emerged, probably in the thirteenth century, and soon became very popular throughout Europe. It would eventually become the most often-sung rendition at masses throughout the world until Vatican II. It has endured even to the present day on recordings and on occasions when a Latin Mass is celebrated. It is No. 503 in the Traditional Roman Hymnal. Its melody is similar to those in the first two versions cited above. Sung in a mostly syllabic style in church mode 7 (Mixolydian), it features a somber melody, again within a restricted vocal range. Still, its melodic character divulges both a depth of expression and a stately devotional sense. To the extent generalizations can be made about Gregorian chant versions of the Pater Noster, it can fairly be said that most are somber but worthwhile efforts that tend to favor syllabic singing over melismatic.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2015 Bayard Musique D 3168
    2014 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4811335
    2014 Challenge Classics CC 72632
    2014 Querstand QUE 1322
    2013 EMI Classics / Erato / Virgin Classics 5099960267
    2013 Glossa / Glossa Cabinet GCDC 81402
    2013 Fermate 40010
    2012 Signum Classics SIGCD 287
    2012 Naxos 8572987
    2010 Seraphic Fire Media 07
    2009 Brilliant Classics 93870
    2009 Far Beyond / ZYX Music FAR 10852
    2009 Multimedia San Paolo / Zebralution
    2009 Ricercar 271
    2009 JAV Recordings JAV181
    2009 Hyperion 67748
    2009 Multimedia San Paolo / Zebralution
    2008 Alphée / Zebralution
    2008 Music Digital / Zebralution
    2006 Milan
    2006 Silva America SILKD 6039
    2006 Milan
    2006 Union Square Music 25
    2005 Kleos Classics 5135
    2005 Jade 36142
    2005 Angel Records 899822
    2005 Far Beyond / Far Beyond/Zyx 1035
    2004 The Gift of Music 1100
    2004 Cantus 9817/20
    2003 Silver Star Records / ZYX Music 1041
    2003 Cantus 9804/6
    2002 Griffin 4032
    2001 MCD World Music 138
    2000 Milan
    2000 Jade / Jade / Milan JACD-69821
    2000 Holyland Records 35
    2000 Cantus 9624
    1999 Virgin 45324
    1999 Glossa 921402
    1997 Motette 50341
    1997 Supraphon 32712
    1996 Herald Records HAVPCD195
    1996 Sounds True MM 00318D
    1994 Symphonia 9108
    1992 DG Archiv 435032
    1990 Virgin 59006
    EMI / EMI Music Distribution 747949
    Linn Records CKD152
    Jade 113