Puer natus est nobis, et filius datus est nobis, cujus imperium super humerum ejus et vocabitur nomen ejus, magni consilii Angelus.
A child is born to us, and a Son is given to us: Whose government is upon His shoulder: and His Name shall be called, the Angel of Great Counsel.
Old Roman Chant is a body of chant undoubtedly subject to the most contention of any, simply because it is both among the oldest (historically speaking) and because there are no original texts nor documentation of an oral tradition. The term refers to the chant tradition of the Church of Rome and those areas directly under her influence, from the time of the Early Church through the late 8th Century when Gregorian Chant began to predominate in the Western Church. We are left therefore with academic conjecture and re-creation.
The two principal positions regarding Old Roman Chant result from the fact that there are no manuscripts from before the 13th century that accurately and indisputeably represent the form, and thus (at best) accurately documenting the chant form would be a function of "oral tradition." What comprised Old Roman Chant tends to be seen two ways. What might be described as the “academic liturgical” view essentially begins with the thesis that the Roman chant that was completed by about 750 is inaccessible to us in its original form. Further, it is only the Roman chant that was transmitted to the Franks after 754 AD and was modified in significant ways by them (giving us what we know as Gregorian chant), that is accessible to us via extant manuscripts. In the Roman Catholic chant manuscript corpus, it is known that the five manuscripts labeled as “Old Roman Chant” are dated from the late 11th to the mid-12th centuries. Thus, by general agreement, the Old Roman and Gregorian sources each represent a development or modification of the same original, the Roman chant of around 750. Little, if anything, however, is said by proponents of this view about the nature of the liturgical chant sung in the Church of Rome up to that time and it is no surprise that their interpretation of Old Roman Chant sounds like a simplified Gregorian chant. Examples are recordings by Schola Hungarica.
In contrast, what might be described as the “historical reconstructionist” view begins with the common sense assumption that the early church exemplified a high degree of homogeneity, and therefore since early Christian music forms were based on older Greek music forms, it can be safely assumed that Old Roman Chant had its roots in, and probably sounded very similar to pre-Byzantine chant in the early church period. Most of the proponents of this understanding of Old Roman Chant have begun with the oldest manuscripts they have available, and informed by a variety of "extra-musical" datum, set out to try and recreate Old Roman chant--this is an undertaking akin to playing classical compositions on original instruments with the goal or recreating the original sound intended by the composer. In addition, this approach considers manuscripts outside the traditional Roman Catholic corpus to be valid, and since the earliest have notation akin to Byzantine notation, are not afraid to involve Byzantine musicologists to try to understand and recreate the sound. Thus it is no surprise that their interpretation of Old Roman Chant sound somewhat like early Byzantine chant.
The Introit (from Latin: introitus, "entrance") is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations. In its most complete version, it consists of an antiphon, psalm verse and Gloria Patri that is spoken or sung at the beginning of the celebration. It is part of the Proper of the liturgy; that is, the part that changes over the liturgical year.
In the Roman Rite of the Roman Catholic Church it is known as the antiphona ad introitum (Entrance antiphon), as in the text for each day's Mass, or as the cantus ad introitum (Entrance chant) as in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 47 and as in the First Roman Ordo (sixth to seventh century). In pre-1970 editions of the Roman Missal, the word Introitus was used, distinguished from the normal meaning of the word (entrance) by being capitalized. In Ambrosian chant and Beneventan chant, the counterpart of the Introit is called the "ingressa". In the Mozarabic, Carthusian, Dominican, and Carmelite Rites, it is called the "officium".
Originally, the entrance of the priest who was to celebrate Mass was accompanied by the singing of a whole psalm, with Gloria Patri (doxology). While the psalm was at first sung responsorially, with an antiphon repeated by all at intervals, while a solo singer chanted the words of the psalm, it was soon sung directly by two groups of singers alternating with each other, and with the antiphon sung only at the beginning and the end, as is the usual way of chanting the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours. The change to this manner of singing the psalm has been attributed to Pope Celestine I (422-432). Pope Gregory I (590-604), after whom Gregorian chant is named, composed several antiphons for singing with the Entrance psalm.
If singing of the psalm was not completed by the time the Entrance procession arrived at the altar, the singers moved directly to the Gloria Patri and the final repetition of the antiphon. In time only the opening verse of the psalm was kept, together with the Gloria Patri, preceded and followed by the antiphon, the form of the Introit in Tridentine Mass Roman Missals, which explicitly indicate this manner of singing the Introit.
The 1970 revision of the Roman Missal explicitly envisages singing the entire psalm associated with the antiphon, but does not make it obligatory. In contemporary Catholic usage, the introit corresponds to the Entrance Antiphon and is sung or recited audibly throughout by the faithful.
Text and liturgical use
The antiphons of most Introits are taken from Psalms, though many come from other parts of Scripture. In some rare cases the antiphon is not from Scripture: "Salve, sancta parens", from the Christian poet Sedulius, is the antiphon used in the Tridentine form of the Roman Rite for common Masses of the Blessed Virgin Mary; the 1970 revision kept a Mass formula of the Blessed Virgin with that antiphon, but provided several alternatives.
The words of the antiphons are related to the theme of the feastday or celebration and most frequently have something in common with the liturgical readings of the Mass.
In the Tridentine Mass the Introit is no longer the first text used in the Mass. In Low Mass, the priest reads it only after the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. Until 1908, even in sung Mass the choir began the Introit only after the priest had begun those prayers, but Pope Pius X restored the old arrangement whereby the Introit accompanied the entrance procession of the priest with the ministers. The Tridentine Mass has the priest read the Introit in the Missal even when it is also sung by the choir. It also has him make the sign of the cross, when reading it, a relic of the time when Mass began with it.
Since the 1970 revision of the Roman Missal, the Entrance chant begins as the priest enters. Its purpose is to open the celebration, foster the unity of those who have been gathered, turn their thoughts to the mystery of the celebration, and accompany the procession. If there is no singing at the Entrance, the antiphon in the Missal is recited either by the faithful, or by some of them, or by a lector; otherwise, it is recited by the priest himself, who may even adapt it as an introductory explanation.
If another rite immediately precedes Mass, such as the Palm Sunday procession or the various ceremonies that precede Mass at the Easter Vigil, Mass begins with the collect; there is no Entrance at that point and so no Entrance chant.