When I first encountered Gregorian Chant in the Catholic Mass, it felt like a serenade for my soul. The music massaged my anxiety away, and I knew right away I wanted more chant in the masses I went to, more chant in the prayers I prayed, more chant in my life.
So what did I do? What I usually do when I find treasure — I shared it with others as fast and as much as I could.
I started by teaching Tantum Ergo to the kids in the youth group. Yes, it was all in Latin. Yes, they took to it easily and faster than I thought they would. And yes, it was slow, paced, and measured.
But why exactly is Christian chant so slooooooow? Why do we draw out the Kyrieeeeeeeeeee eleison (among others)? Why do we take our time and pronounce everything carefully, tediously…
Well, it’s the same reason why lovers can talk for hours. When you love someone, you don’t rush through conversations, you don’t speed through hellos and blitz through farewells, you don’t sing to each other just to get it over with. You savor it!
You take it slow, show them you care, take the time to make it clear and meaningful.
When you encounter beauty, you want to stay in it. Nobody brushes off a stunning sunset. Nobody forgets a special smile. But everybody wants to prolong their exposure to beauty, to stall and relish in it — get absorbed into it.
And that’s why chant can’t speed up. Because we’re singing to our Beloved, because we’re humming to Him with the saints in Heaven, because we’re steeping in His glory and beauty.
Even toddlers know Gregorian chant is just different — and dare I say… just better.
So next time you’re at a Mass with chant done right, don’t just listen… but feel the music. It’s prayer with texture.
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