This inquiry into the monophonic Benedicamus explores: 1) the performance practice of the chant; 2) a thirteenth-century collection of twenty-six melodies for the Benedicamus; 3) the liturgical placement of the versicle; and 4) the dissemination of certain Benedicamus melodies. The article advances the thesis that the performance practice of the Benedicamus accounts on the one hand for its prestige in the liturgy and on the other hand for the fact that the monophonic Benedicamus built on preexisting material could be improvised without the aid of notated sources. It argues that certain melodies for the Benedicamus were more widely disseminated than has previously been supposed, and that these chants are interconnected with other musical forms: responsory tropes and polyphonic responsories, alleluias, and motets. The melodies examined represent both the end of the early era of monophonic Benedicamus, a tradition which was often unnotated, and the beginning of a later practice of writing out the collections of the chant.
- Copyright 1988 The American Musicological Society, Inc.