Gregorian chants are historically significant. It’s the first example of Christian liturgical music that was preserved throughout the centuries. In the mid-eighth century, it became the official music of Christian worship. In the simplest terms, it’s vocals sung without music accompaniment.
Guess what? You should have a listen to this transcendently amazing music, which is why we’ve compiled a list of the best meditative Gregorian chants. Make sure you experience these chants for the ultimate in relaxation.
What Are the Best Meditative Gregorian Chants?
If you’re looking for the best meditative Gregorian chants, we’re so here for you. Here are our top picks.
The album comprises 50 songs, and it lasts 5 hours and 17 minutes. The songs include: “Praise of Glory”, “Apocalyptic Vision”, “Sanctus”, “ The Silent Prayer”, and many more. The album offers really chill vibes, and there is a certain simplicity in the production of the songs. The overall feeling that this album gives is meditative, soothing, and even playful at times.
The album is very inexpensive: it only costs a dollar! There are added instruments like piano, guitar, chimes, and a harp, and even though there are songs that have an upbeat quality, most of the songs have a mellow mood.
This fabulous album offers 21 songs, and it lasts 1 hour and three minutes. It includes songs like: “Graduale: Miserere”, “Hymnus: Pange Lingua”, “Ruf: Ecce Lignum”, and much more! Trust us when we say that this album offers one of the most calming compilations you’ve ever heard.
The recording quality is excellent, and the sound is crystal clear. The price is extremely reasonable. There is a spiritually centering and tranquil quality to the songs which you’re sure to experience as soon as you hit the play button.
Lost In Meditation – Meditative Gregorian Chants, Vol. 2 has 18 songs, and it lasts an hour. The album consists of songs like: “Halleluja: Dies Sanctificatus” and “Graduale: Omnes De Saba”.
This compilation offers beauty, quality, and pristine audio clarity. What makes it really special is that the entire album was recorded in a great monastery or cathedral, and the sound quality really reflects that. You can hear the cathedral acoustics thanks to the subtle echo that adds warmth to the songs. If you’re looking for meditative, relaxing, and deep music, this $8 bargain is a great choice for you.
The album consists of 39 beautiful songs and it lasts 2 hours and 6 minutes. The songs include “Introitus: Ecce Advenit”, “Introitus: Misereris”, and much more.
Capella Gregoriana sings with a feeling that is sincere and not hurried. Each piece delivers a wonderful feeling by means of pauses at the end of each phrase and letting their voices echo. If you’re feeling stressed out from work or life in general, this album will do wonders to center your mind and soothe your nerves.
The gorgeous Gregorian Chants (Red Classics) consists of 30 songs that last an hour and 28 minutes. The songs include “Antiphon: Immutemur”, “Hymnus: Pange Lingua”, and many more.
As we mentioned above, Capella Gregoriana produces high-quality recordings. The sound quality of this album is very rich. For such a large amount of music, the cost is really affordable.
The album is definitely worth a thoughtful listen, and it’s especially great for those who need help meditating or have trouble falling asleep. Allow yourself to have a peaceful break from daily bustle and noise and check out this album!
First, What’s Gregorian Chant?
Gregorian chant is the music of the church, born in the church’s liturgy. It was composed entirely in Latin, and it’s still best to sing it in Latin since its melodies are closely connected to Latin word meanings and accents. Gregorian chant has no time signature or meter, and it’s in free rhythm.
The melodic sounds are often described as mysterious and they do sound very unique. When a choir performs, the chants are typically sung in unison without musical accompaniment, meter, and rhyme, and the tones rise and fall in an unstructured manner.
Gregorian chant is considered sacred music. However, not all sacred music is a Gregorian chant. One of the reasons that the chant is traditionally sung acapella is to make the text the central point of the music. However, there are exceptions to this unofficial rule, and some choirs insert musical accompaniment or harmonies into the chant.
There are many styles and types of music that are inspired by Gregorian chant. But, there are differences between these types of music. For instance, Taizé chants are similar to Gregorian chants, and both are in Latin. However, Taizé chants are metered with instrumental accompaniments or choral harmonies.
Gregorian chants were organized into 4, 8, and 12 modes. Typical melodic features of a Gregorian chant include characteristic intervallic patterns relative to cadences, incipits, and mode final, a vocabulary of musical motifs called centonization, used to create families of related chants, and the use of reciting tones at a particular distance.
The priest recites the song, while the choir handles the more complex music. The chant has become a natural part of the liturgy throughout the centuries. Gregorian music can be amazingly complicated, advanced, and possess a high level of aesthetic power. A big part of the beauty in this music is that it’s actually quite simple. Anyone can learn to sing a Gregorian chant.
Gregorian chant was traditionally sung by men and women of religious orders in their chapels, or by choirs of boys and men in churches. The Gregorian chant had periods of intense popularity throughout the years, and centuries when its popularity receded, but in the end, it became the music of the church.
The History of Gregorian Chant
The Gregorian chant has a long tradition and a complex history. It was composed generally of Latin biblical verses and it has been described by the Second Vatican Council as a treasure of inestimable value. Gregorian chant is one of the most subtle and richest art forms in Western music.
Gregorian chant developed in central and western Europe during the ninth and the tenth centuries, with later redactions and additions. There is a popular legend that credits Pope Gregory I with the invention of the Gregorian chant. Legends aside, academics actually believe that it originated from a Carolingian synthesis of Gallican chant and Roman chant.
Gregorian music gets its name from St. Gregory the Great, who was a pope from 590 to 604. It is not that he was directly involved in developing Gregorian chant, but he helped in reordering the liturgy in a way that’s more practical, by creating an environment that is artistic and necessary to establish some form of plainchant.
Within a short time, the Gregorian chant style appeared in a remarkably uniform state all across Europe. From German and English sources, Gregorian chant spread to Finland, Iceland, and Scandinavia. Eventually, Gregorian chant replaced the local Roman chant tradition, now known as the old Roman chant.
Around 930, the first written sources of musical notation appeared. Before these sources, there was an oral transmission of plainchant. As most scholars agree, the music notation development assisted the Gregorian chant in being disseminated across Europe.
The emergence of polyphony which distorted the rhythm, melody, and phrasing of the Gregorian chant at the end of the medieval period indicated the beginning of the weakening of the Gregorian chant. As the years passed, the chant melodies became corrupted, and Gregorian chant was seriously and sadly neglected at the start of the nineteenth century.
After it was discarded by Protestantism and the Renaissance, there were many attempts to restore Gregorian chant. Unfortunately, the distorted version of the chat lost its power of expression and purity, and failed to inspire the prayer of the Church as it previously had done.
The person who took the initiative to reestablish Gregorian chant in the nineteenth century according to original manuscripts was Dom Gueranger. The goal of his restoration and research was to publish liturgical books. He founded Solesmes Abbey, and, to restore the chant’s distinct sound, the monks of Solesmes pored over ancient manuscripts in their work.
The Gregorian chant continues to be kept alive in convents, cathedrals, and monasteries, and over the past few years, there has been a resurgence of chant. This is especially true with the album Chant performed by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos, which produced the best-selling record of Gregorian chant.
What Are the Characteristics of Gregorian Chant?
Like we previously mentioned, Gregorian chant is music made only using vocals, and it doesn’t have any musical accompaniment. Chants are songs without meter or rhyme, and the tones rise and fall in a free manner.
Some of the main characteristics of this type of music are that it was church music, sung in mass, and it was traditionally performed by an all-male choir. Notes can be held for short or long periods since the music doesn’t have a precise rhythm. The chant has no harmony, is monophonic in texture, and it is a free-flowing melody.
Is Gregorian Chant Classical Music or Meditation Music?
Even though classical music seems far more complex than Gregorian chant, there was some influence between the two modes.
The most significant influence was in the musical notation development, when the church wanted to create a unified mass structure in Europe. This ensured that the chants will be sung the same way at all liturgies. The earliest notation consisted of squiggles and little dots called neumes.
When it comes to relaxing music, however, the Gregorian chant is often used as music for practicing meditation. Some people believe that chanting helps with yogic breathing by creating a rhythmic breathing power.
Gregorian music has the power to make us focus on the present and pull us into mindfulness. Its simplicity is what contributes to this feeling. It provides music to calm your mind and focus your attention, and it allows you to relax.
Benefits of Gregorian Chant
In the Middle Ages, many people believed that Gregorian chants had healing powers, and when sung in harmony, they brought tremendous spiritual blessings. Studies done in recent years have shown that there might be a little bit of truth to that.
Research conducted by a neuroscientist at Imperial College of London called Dr. Alan Watkins has concluded that Gregorian chant can help reduce depression and anxiety and it can also lower blood pressure.
Another study conducted in 2012 at the University of Sao Paulo School of Nursing concluded that Gregorian chants helped mothers with hospitalized children by reducing their anxiety.
Meditative Gregorian chants are ideal for relaxing and meditation. Even before the rise of Christianity, the singing of prayers and hymns was an important part of public and personal worship. The Gregorian chant is favored by the Roman Catholic Church above all other music styles that have emerged over the past few centuries.
This ancient form of singing has been passed down to us by St. Gregory the Great, and it’s traditionally known to draw its practical strengths and beauty from the three vows of religious life: obedience, chastity, and poverty.
Gregorian music is a chaste and pure melody, which doesn’t need any accompaniment or underlying memory, since it comfortably uses a limited range of notes. The chants don’t include anything that will distract from the words that are being sung. Gregorian chants are obedient to the sacred text, and all it requires to sing a Gregorian chant is a willing voice.
Above everything else, it is a solemn and simple way of praying. The most basic chants can be learned by anyone who wants to learn them, and no instruments are needed.
Gregorian chants continue to rouse the soul with sacred inspiration and enrich Catholic culture. However, you don’t need to be religious to reap the benefits! While we all appreciate the variety of today’s music, Gregorian chant remains special among the popular tunes that dominate the music world.