Liturgy and Music in the Role of the Chantry Priest
Author: Bowers, Roger
Source: Journal of the British Archaeological Association, Volume 164, Number 1, 2011 , pp. 130-156(27)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Within his home church, whether collegiate or parish, the primary role of the chantry chaplain was to be one of the team of executants of the plainsong liturgy. Collegiate churches were founded for the greater glory of God ; the soul of the founder drew benefit from his having procured an expansion of humanity's overall volume of worship, and in recognition of this the college's execution of the standard diocesan liturgy and its plainsong could even be amplified with slight additions commending the founder by name. In parish churches the chantry staff assisted the parish priest in singing daily matins, high mass and vespers, so helping him to meet the stipulations of the liturgical service-books. Where they were maintained in sufficient number these clergy were commonly consolidated into an organised plainsong choir, directed by a qualified lay musician usually occupying the office of parish clerk. Less prominently, each chantry priest also recited, normally daily, a secluded private mass for the benefit of his founder (to the text of which, likewise, slight personalising additions might be made). Only rarely were chantry priests entrusted with roles more demanding; priests who sought to contribute to teaching of the chant, or to teaching or performing elaborate polyphonic music, or to playing the organ, were sought out by the vibrant fraternities of the living rather than by the trustees of the long deceased. More commonly, however, all roles such as these were fulfilled by laity ; of grammar schools alone did founders commonly seek to require the teacher to be a priest, able to execute some chantry functions in his spare time. All ended in 1548. By the 1540s collegiate churches rendered superfluous by the rise of the aristocratic household chapel were already vulnerable to agreed dissolution, and in 1548 Protestant disdain for the multiplication of formal worship for its own sake, especially when conducted in Latin, contributed to the end of the chantry, and of the involvement of chantry priests in the cultivation of the liturgy and its plainsong.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2011-09-01