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The Music Library wishes to express our greatest gratitude to Professor Daniel Chua, Professor of Music at HKU, for his generous donation of a music parchment. We are also deeply indebted to Professor Masakata Kanazawa for his time and effort to transcribe the piece into modern notation. 


Introduction to the manuscript About the transcriber About the donor
Transcription Lyrics Music
What is Gregorian Chant? Characteristics of Chant Useful links
Scholarly studies & Modern editions Acknowledgements  



Introduction to the manuscript

The First Sunday of Advent is performed on the fourth Sunday before Christmas in the Catholic Church, sung by a choir in Latin or local languages. The piece is a single vocal melodic line and sung without accompaniment or harmonic support. A monophonic tone and free rhythm create solemn atmosphere when it is heard inside the church. This folio is the second folio (or pages 3 and 4) of Graduale Romanum, a collection of chants for Proper Parts of Mass (Proprium missae) of the Roman Liturgy, a very typical choir book of the time. Physically, the choir book is so large that could be opened on a lectern and be seen by a large number of choir members standing some distance away.

Date: late 16th century – early 17th century, approximately

                                    Material: vellum

manuscript 01

Size: 534 (H) x 406 (W) mm

The First Sunday of Advent consists of

Introitus: Ad te levavi

Graduale: Universi qui te exspectant

Alleluia: Ostende nobis Domine

                                Offertorium: Ad te Domine levavi

                                Communio: Dominus dabit benignitatem

The donated manuscript features Graduale, Alleluia and the first half of Offertorium.  


Transcription 01 Transcription 02

               Transcribed and written by Professor Masakata Kanazawa




Latin and English are provided here for reference.







Graduale: Universi qui te exspectant  


Milczarek, Piotr. “Dominica Prima Adventus - Graduale - Universi qui te exspectant.” 22 November 2011. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 15 April 2014.


Alleluia: Ostende nobis Domine  


"Gregorian Chant -  Alleluia: Ostende nobis Domine.” 24 May 2011. Online video clip. Accessed on 15 April 2014.





About the donor

Daniel Chua photo

Before joining Hong Kong University as Professor of Music and Head of the School of Humanities in 2008, Daniel K. L. Chua, was a fellow and the Director of Studies at St John’s College, Cambridge, and later Professor of Music Theory and Analysis at King’s College London.

The manuscript was purchased in Portobello Market, London, 2002.



About the transcriber

Professor Masakata Kanazawa was born in Tokyo. In 1958, he went to Harvard University where studied in musicology under J. M. Ward and Nino Pirrotta. He took the MA in 1961 and then the Ph. D. with a dissertation on the fifteenth-century Vesper music. Returning to Japan in 1966, he taught at a number of universities. In 1970-71, he was a research fellow at the Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence. In 1982, he was appointed the Professor in Musicology at the International Christian University; and he retired in 2004. He has been a contributor to the New Grove dictionaries and the co-editor of the Japanese New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Professor Kanazawa photo



Professor Kanazawa was singing the piece from the digital images of the manuscript shown on the Macbook, Vienna, July 2013   Top


Scholarly studies & Modern editions

An introduction to the post-tridentine Mass proper  An introduction to the post-tridentine Mass proper

  Karp, Theodore, and Calvin M. Bower

  Middleton, Wis: American Institute of Musicology.

                         Music 782.3235 K18

                               The First Sunday of Advent, p. 97-108

Liber usualis

  Liber usualis: missae et officii pro dominicis et festis I. vel II.   classis cum cantu gregoriano ex editione Vaticana adamussim   excerpto et rhythmicis signis in subsidium cantorum     a Solesmensibus monachis diligenter ornato. 1931.

  Paris: Typis Societatis s. Joannis Evang., Desclee.

                        Music 782.53222 C36 l6

                              The First Sunday of Advent, p. 295-299

The Gregorian missal for Sundays

  The Gregorian missal for Sundays: notated in Gregorian chant

  by the monks of Solesmes. 1990.

  Solesmes: Abbaye Saint-Pierre.

                         M2148.L42 1990 at CUHK University Library System

                               The First Sunday of Advent, p. 165-169




What is Gregorian Chant?

"For over 1,000 years, the official music of the Roman Catholic church has been Gregorian chant, which consists of melody set to sacred Latin texts and sung without accompaniment. (The chant is monophonic in texture.) The melodies of Gregorian chant were meant to enhance specific parts of religious services. They set the atmosphere for prayers and ritual actions. For centuries, composers have based original compositions on chant melodies. (Since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-1965, however, most Roman Catholic services have been celebrated in the native language of each country, and so today Gregorian chant is no longer common.)


Gregorian chant conveys a calm, otherworldly quality; it represents the voice of the church, rather than that of any single individual. Its rhythm is flexible, without meter, and has little sense of beat. The exact rhythm of chant melodies is uncertain, because precise time values were not notated. But its free-flowing rhythm gives Gregorian chant a floating, almost improvisational character. The melodies tend to move by step within a narrow range of pitches. Depending on the nature and importance of the text, they are simple or elaborate; some are little more than recitations on a single tone; others contain complex melodic curves.


Gregorian chant is named after Pope Gregory I (the Great), who reorganized the Catholic liturgy during his reign from 590 to 604. Although medieval legend credits Pope Gregory with the creation of Gregorian chant, we know that it evolved over many centuries. Some of its practices, such as the singing of psalms, came from the Jewish synagogues of the first centuries after Christ. Most of the several thousand melodies known today were created between A.D. 600 and 1300.


At first Gregorian melodies were passed along by oral tradition, but as the number of chants grew to the thousands, they were notated to ensure musical uniformity throughout the western church. The earliest surviving chant manuscripts date from about the ninth century. The composers of Gregorian chant—like the sculptors who decorated early medieval churches—remain almost completely unknown." (Kamien, Roger. 2008. Music: an appreciation. Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 83-84.)



Characteristics of Chant

"Gregorian chants are very diverse in style, with varying approaches to performance, treatment of the text, and melodic character. These stylistic differences reflect the disparate functions and histories of the items in the liturgy, and will help guide us through the genres of chant.


Singers use three manners of performance for chant: responsorial (from “response”), in which a soloist alternates with the choir or congregation; antiphonal (from Greek for “sound - returning”), in which two groups or halves of the choir alternate; and direct, without alternation. Certain genres of chant are traditionally associated with each manner of performance, although the way some chants are sung has changed over time.


There are also three styles of setting texts. Chants in which almost every syllable has a single note are called syllabic. Chants in which syllables carry one to six notes or so —generally one neume per syllable—are neumatic (from “neume”). Long melodic passages on a single syllable are melismas, and chants that feature them are melismatic. Not every chant can be neatly classified, since some chants mix styles, and chants that are mainly in one style may use another at various points." (Burkholder, J. Peter, Donald Jay Grout, and Claude V. Palisca. 2010. A history of western music. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 52.)



Plainchant from The Oxford Companion to Music

Gregorian Chant Notation

UMKC’s Book of Gregorian Chant

Images of Gregorian Chant




Professor Daniel K. L. Chua

Professor Masakata Kanazawa

Preservation and Conservation, HKU Libraries

Technology Support Services, HKU Libraries