Why we use Gregorian Chant at the end of our Classes
At the end of each of our Pietra Fitness classes, you will have the opportunity to meditate on the spiritual reading with the accompaniment of sacred music...
Perhaps if this type of music is unfamiliar to you, you might wonder why we would choose to incorporate this type of music into our sessions.
The short answer: Gregorian Chant nourishes your body, mind, and spirit.
Gregorian Chant began as pure melody with lyrics from Latin verses of Scripture–particularly those verses found in the Mass ordinaries, Divine Office hymns, antiphons, and responsories.
Monasteries and convents around the world kept this tradition alive for centuries though it is once again growing in popularity. And with good reason.
Gregorian Chant stands in stark contrast to today’s pop hits. It speaks to our souls in a way that other songs cannot. It goes beyond entertainment and brings the listener into the realm of the Transcendent.
The Power of Music
Beauty–true, transcendent Beauty–plays a necessary role in the life of the Church particularly in the liturgy. It captivates us and opens our minds to wonder, drawing us ever-closer to the source of all Beauty.
Beauty paves the way for a deep, life-giving (and life-changing) love.
We can encounter God’s beauty through so many mediums–art, literature, nature– but few are so transformative as the power of music particularly because of its role in the liturgical celebrations of the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church writes: “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art…[because] it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy.” (CCC 1156)
Since the pontificate of Pope Gregory the Great (540-604), Gregorian Chant has been the musical language of the Church; it communicates the sacred to us.
Gregorian Chant was made to accompany the liturgy in order to make the mysteries of God, specifically the Paschal Mystery, present to the people.
When it is sung during the Divine Office or listened to in your home, it extends the liturgy throughout your day making your whole life an offering to God.
By encountering this form of contemplative prayer at the end of each Pietra Fitness class, its ancient beauty and mystery will pull your eyes heavenward and your heart into the Beauty and Mystery of God.
Nourishing the body, as well as the soul.
However, the benefits of Gregorian Chant goes far beyond the spiritual ones.
Professionals in various fields of science and medicine have discovered that Gregorian Chant has positive impacts on both bodily and mental health.
For instance, Dr. Alan Watkins, a senior lecturer in neuroscience at Imperial College London in his research on chanting noted that “the musical structure of chant can have a significant and positive physiological impact,” and that chanting has actually been shown to “lower blood pressure, increase levels of DHEA and also reduce anxiety and depression.”
Similar studies also suggest that Gregorian chant can help the right and left hemispheres of the brain communicate more effectively, therefore creating new neural brain pathways.
Benedictine nun Ruth Stanley, head of the complementary medicine program at Minnesota’s St. Cloud Hospitals found great success in easing the chronic pain of patients by having them listen to chant.
French audiologist Dr. Alfred Tomatis found that monks of a Benedictine monastery suffering from fatigue, depression, and physical illness regained their well-being after re-establishing their daily chanting. He concluded that Gregorian chant could charge the central nervous system along with the cortex of the brain which directly influences overall health and feelings of happiness.
By including Gregorian Chant at the end of each class, we hope you will feel more at peace in body, mind, and spirit, and that you come to see yourself as a beautiful cathedral for God’s glory. Also, we hope you start to fall in love with this type of music and allow yourself to be transported beyond the material and into the presence of God.