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A Coalescence of Liturgical Consensus on the Chants for the Mass for the Dead from its Origins through the Fourteenth Century

Valle, III, Nemesio (2011) A Coalescence of Liturgical Consensus on the Chants for the Mass for the Dead from its Origins through the Fourteenth Century. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Although death is an essential part of human experience, the Mass for the Dead—frequently known as the Requiem Mass—has not been fully examined in musicological literature. The Mass for the Dead as a liturgical genre arises, not with the first generation of propers in the early eighth century, but gradually and sporadically by the end of that century. As a consequence, rather than a stable body of propers like most of the early celebrations, the chants for the Mass for the Dead vary significantly from region to region according to local practice. Although a few of these variations have been noted, the degree of diversity exceeds expectation. Through the survey of over 180 manuscripts, the multiplicity of chant traditions are documented and placed in their historical, artistic and theological context. The predicates for this Mass derive from consistent attitudes that Christians held about death in their early history. These were communicated through a variety of media—prayers, artwork, and formal liturgy. Ultimately, after the architecture for liturgical practice had already been erected, a Mass for the Dead arose. The texts used in the chants drew from burial prayers, other liturgical celebrations with appropriate texts, or were newly composed for the occasion. Around the end of the eleventh century, certain historical and theological factors contributed towards a consensus on the Mass for the Dead. Specifically, the newly-founded Cluniac, Carthusian, and Cistercian orders were well respected in their liturgical reform and expressed specific theological opinions about the importance of the Mass for the Dead. The "All Souls' Day" celebration—a liturgy specifically designed to intercede with God on behalf of souls who seek to be admitted into heaven—originated in Cluniac circles and was promulgated amongst the other orders and, ultimately, across the entire body of the Church. In particular, the development of the doctrine of Purgatory fueled the interest in a coherent formulary for the Mass for the Dead, which led to decreased diversity amongst the chants used for that celebration.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Valle, III,
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairLewis, Mary S
Committee MemberRoot, Deane L
Committee MemberFranklin, Don O
Committee MemberStones, M Alison
Committee MemberCasey, Sara G
Date: 1 July 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 28 March 2011
Approval Date: 1 July 2011
Submission Date: 22 April 2011
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Music
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gregorian Chant; Plainchant; Theology; Mass for the Dead; Requiem
Other ID:, etd-04222011-070252
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:41
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:42


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