CDs & Publications

Music CDs

Each of the following CDs costs £14 which includes postage and packing. Further information is available from:

Schola Gregoriana, 47 Western Park Road, Leicester, LE3 6HQ


Cohors leta ducat Chorum

Music in honour of the Blessed Virgin from the mediaeval convents of Fontevraud and Las Huelgas.


Standing in one of Europe’s medieval churches, one often wonders what music sounded and resounded there, seven, eight, nine centuries ago, or even earlier. Gregorian chant, in one of its many local forms, would be the simple answer. But a number of exceptional manuscripts have survived, which show how in some places, alongside the universal practice, special chants and polyphonic pieces might heighten the solemnity of the great festival days of the church year. Two of these manuscripts have inspired our CD, music books from two of the most remarkable churches of medieval Europe, Fontevraud just south of the Loire between Tours and Angers in northwest France, and Las Huelgas near Burgos in northern Spain. The motets express in miniature the world of associations which nourished and inspired medieval worship. The music in the Fontevraud and Las Huelgas manuscripts illustrates beautifully the guiding principle of so much medieval creative endeavour, which grows out of age-old roots, putting forth ever new branches. So it is with the architecture of the churches where this music was sung, so also with the new texts blossoming forth from the biblical stem, and so with the chant, Gregorian, post-Gregorian, then branching out into two and three voices, all inspired by the desire to praise God on earth as a prelude to the eternal song of the life hereafter.


The Dedication of the Temple

Music from the Templars’ Jerusalem Breviary.


Recorded in The Temple Church, London 2009. This recording represents the culmination of a project that our founder, Dr Mary Berry, had in mind during her last year, and as such is naturally dedicated to her memory.The Temple Church, built around 1160 and consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalam in 1185, has been in the joint care of the Inner and Middle Temples, two of the four legal Inns of Court, for 400 years. It was originally built by the English Knights Templar, to replicate their round mother church on the site of Christ’s Resurrection in Jerusalem.

So important was it as a place of spiritual significance that many knights were buried there ( you can see their effigies to this day ) and Thomas a Becket, when Archbishop, granted an indulgence of twenty days to all those who entered it. The centrality of Jerusalem as the earthly replica of the heavenly kingdom comes through in the Templar liturgy that forms the basis of this recording.

It is no coincidence that Jerusalem is the circular city at the centre of the mappa mundi. So to be in London’s Temple Church was, to the medieval mind, to be in the actual place for one’s own spiritual enlightenment helped no doubt by the uplifting qualities of singing the daily office, which Bernard of Clairvaux probably helped to compile. The Church retains its special atmosphere to this day and the Chant sounds wonderful in its ancient, round, acoustic – pure, perfect and complete.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


Guillaume de Machault

La Messe de Nostre Dame


This is a live recording of a solemn celebration of a High Mass, made in the Cathedral of Reims, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The pieces of the Ordinary (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus, and Ite missa est) are those composed by Machault, his Messe de Nostre Dame.

The pieces of the Proper (Introit, Gradual, Alleluia, Prose, Offertory, and Communion) are the Gregorian Chants for the Feast of the Assumption. A votive Mass honouring Mary, the Saturday Lady Mass, was to become a regular and a popular feature of medieval and later liturgy, both in Reims and elsewhere,  and since the Feast of the Assumption (15th August) happened to fall on a Saturday in the year of Machault’s death, it presented itself as a particularly suitable choice.

The altar of the Rouelle having long disappeared, the altar in the east end of the building was chosen for the celebration, where the full beauty of the Cathedral’s acoustics could best be appreciated.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


 Tu es Petrus

Chants and motets in honour of St Peter, recorded in the Vatican.


The best and most succinct account of the life of St Peter is that of David Hugh Farmer in the Oxford Book of Saints (OUP, 1978). In his summary of what we know of Peter from the New Testament, he begins: ‘He was called Simon, a native of Bethesaida, near the Sea of Galilee, and a brother of Andrew, who introduced him to Christ, who gave him the name of Cephas (Peter) which means rock.’

Farmer concludes his account by remarking: ‘From very early times Peter was invoked as a universal saint, as the heavenly door-keeper, as the patron of the Church and the papacy, as one who was both powerful and accessible.’

The liturgy tells the story of Peter’s life, through music of exceptional strength and beauty. There is a rich abundance of proper chants for the feast of St. Peter, primarily for his major feast, shared with St. Paul on 29th June, and also for a lesser feast, St. Peter’s Chains, based on the miraculous escape related in the Acts of the Apostles.

Most of these chants have texts drawn from the Gospels. The programme follows the sequence of events, from the apostle’s calling by the Sea of Galilee, to his declaration of faith, his triple denial, and the mission of love entrusted to him by Christ after the Resurrection, ending with his acceptance of death by martyrdom, head-downwards on a cross.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


Angels from the Vatican

Missa de Angelis; Exsultet; and other music describing the manifestations of the Angels.

If the Invisible made Visible is a way of describing an artist’’s conception of an Angel, then for those other masterpieces, the works of a musician’’s craft, one might say that the Inaudible becomes Audible. Out of silence the composer creates something that enables us to recapture an echo of Gabriel’’s resounding Ave! at the Annunciation. We hear the song of the Angels at the Birth of Christ and we catch a phrase or two of the unending worship of the heavenly Seraphim.

These angelic utterances are recorded here, together with many chants describing the activities of the holy Angels. The music is grouped into eight sections: What is an Angel?, Angels in the Life of Christ, Angels in the Life of the Virgin, Angels in the Life of the Community, Angels and the Liturgy, Christ the Judge, The Holy Trinity, and Madonna in Glory.


The Coming of Augustine AD 597

“Not Angles, but Angels” Chant to celebrate the coming of Augustine to England in A.D. 597, recorded in San Gregorio, Rome.

The mission of Augustine from Rome to England: In the spring of A.D. 597 St Augustine of Canterbury first set foot in the south-east corner of England. There is an English Heritage cross in a field in Ebbsfleet, Kent, that marks the spot.

Augustine was commissioned by Pope Gregory I -– Gregory the Great – – to take the Good News of the Gospels to the pagan Anglo-Saxons, who had invaded and colonised much of eastern Britain, and to bring a new ministry to the scattered Christian flock that survived across the country following the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west.

Apart from the Invitatory, which comes from the Common of a Confessor Bishop, most of this music, of considerable originality, is taken from two rhyming offices in honour of St Gregory the Great. One is by an 11th-century Alsatian Pope, St Leo IX (1002-54), the other probably by an unknown monk of Canterbury, who re-composed the antiphons, making them more directly relevant to England and to the English.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


The Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket

The Unfinished Vespers of December 29, 1170, recorded in Canterbury Cathedral

The story of the Martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket has been told many times. There are contemporary eye-witness accounts of how the four knights rushed in and slew the Archbishop in his own cathedral of Canterbury; there are scholarly modern historical studies; the story is told in the stained-glass windows of the cathedral itself; and of course there are Chaucer’’s entertaining Canterbury Tales,

… This recording approaches the story from another angle: it is an attempt to capture through music each major act of the grim drama as it unfolds.It is rare to find intact the office music for the feast of St Thomas. In nearly all the sources the relevant pages were torn out or defaced in the 16th century by order of Henry VIII.

However, in an early 13th-century noted breviary from Lewes Priory the Office for St Thomas appears in pristine condition and it is from this source that the music for the recording has been transcribed.



Mass of the Annunciation

A live celebration of High Mass according to the traditional Roman rite, with James O’Donnell organ

The recording was made during a live celebration of High Mass, in the private chapel of Arundel Castle, according to the traditional Roman rite. This rite represents a liturgy that dates back, essentially unchanged, to the time of St Gregory the Great (c. 540-604), and was in common use until the introduction of the new Missal by Pope Paul VI in 1969, following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council.

Texts and translations of the sung parts of the Mass are given in full, and these are followed by the full text of the parts assigned to the clergy, including the numerous semi-silent prayers that occasionally overlap with the singing of the choir. The listener will find himself in a similar position to that of someone seated in the nave, facing the altar, with the choir in the foreground and the clergy beyond, in the sanctuary.

It is the music of the organ and choir that first strikes the ear, together with the audibly chanted prayers.… At the same time, the listener is soon alerted to the fact that more is going on….  So, with the aid of the texts of both the audible and inaudible parts, he is able to reconstruct in his mind a full and rounded picture of the whole of this ancient liturgy.


Ceremony of the Shepherds and Midnight Mass

According to the 13th-century rite of Rouen Cathedral, with the Choristers of King’s College, Cambridge

The Ceremony of the Shepherds is a Christmas play which would have been performed by the clergy themselves, from the most junior to the most senior. It takes place during the night, between the end of the Night Office of Matins and the beginning of Midnight Mass. It opens with the Angel’’s announcement to the Shepherds, ‘‘Fear not, I bring you good tidings’.

’…This recording was made during a live celebration of the Mass as it used to be celebrated in Rouen Cathedral in the 13th century. The form of the service is a local variant of the Roman rite and the prayers of the priest may be heard from time to time being quietly recited at the altar.

Special features of this fascinating rite include the words ‘frates et sorores‘ (brothers and sisters) at the ‘Orate fratres’, and the offering of the Book of Gospels to the noble ladies present in the congregation for them to kiss.


Marcel Dupré: Les Vêspres de la Vierge

15 Antiphons and Versets, Op. 18 recorded in Notre-Dame, Paris, with Philippe Lefebvre grande orgue and David Hill orgue de choeur

Marcel Dupré’s Fifteen Antiphons came into being as a set of improvisations played during the celebration of Vespers in Notre-Dame on 15 August 1919. Their true title, Les Vêpres de la Vierge, is also a clue to their true nature: a set of improvisations inserted into the choral liturgy, replacing fifteen items of it.

A centuries-old living tradition of such alternation between choir and organ (alternatim) lies behind Dupré’s Op. 18. On that 15 August 1919 an Englishman, Claude Johnson, the General Managing Director of Rolls-Royce, was attending Vespers. A man of great vision and sensitivity, he was struck by the beauty of Dupré’s music and wanted to buy a copy.

On being told that it had been improvised, and therefore not written down, he at once persuaded Dupré to try to recapture his original inspiration and commissioned the set of 15 pieces. They appeared the following year….

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


Abelard: hymns and sequences for Heloise

12th-century chant and liturgical dramas, with the Choristers of Winchester Cathedral directed by Mary Berry

Two special gifts you had,’ wrote Heloise to Abelard, years after their tragic separation, ‘two special gifts whereby to attract straightway the heart of any woman whomsoever: the beauty of your songs and your singing. …’ Scholars have long suspected that at least a few of Master Peter Abelard’’s love-lyrics may have found their way anonymously into the songbooks of the later Middle Ages; but not a single melody attributable to Abelard has proved recoverable.

Most medievalists tend to forget, however, that the tragic ending of the passionate love-affair between the celebrated teacher and the young Heloise marked the beginning of a new and even more profound relationship between the two.

From his monastery in distant Brittany, Abelard, now Abbot of St Gildas, continued to write texts and melodies for Heloise, now Abbess of the Abbey of the Paraclete on the other side of France, near Troyes; and, in time, a sizeable body of Abelard’’s compositions helped to give the liturgy of the Paraclete its distinctive note.

Mary Berry studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Thurston Dart at the University of Cambridge, where she specialised in sacred music. Following her doctoral thesis ‘The Performance of Plainsong in the Later Middle Ages and the Sixteenth Century’, she researched the evolution of different styles and interpretation of 10th- and 12th-century chant, particularly in France, where she worked and studied for many years.

She became Fellow and Director of Studies in Music at Newnham College, Cambridge, founded the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge in 1975.


Pentecôte à Pontigny

Music in honour of three Archbishops of Canterbury

The Abbey of Pontigny, second daughter-house of Cîteaux, was founded in 1114 in the valley of the River Serin, a typical rural Cistercian site. The Abbey church is the largest Cistercian church surviving in France today.

The imposing height and length of the building give it a remarkably warm and resonant acoustic, well suited to chant. The brilliance of the white stone enables the purity and simplicity of the early Cistercian architecture to be revealed in all its beauty.

The Abbey is rich in history. In particular, during the 12th and 13th centuries three English Archbishops of Canterbury sought refuge there: Thomas Becket (1118-1170), Stephen Langton (d.1228), and Edmund of Abingdon (c.1175-1240), who became patron saint of Pontigny.

Pentecost has a special meaning for the people of Pontigny because it was on a Whit Monday that Edmund of Abingdon, – St Edme in French – was transported from Soissy, where he died, to his final resting-place above the high altar in the Abbey church.

This recording enters into the spirit of ‘Pentecôte at Pontigny’: ritual music for the feast of Pentecost, chants gleaned from Cistercian service-books, and a selection of pieces that honour the three Archbishops.





Christmas in Royal Anglo-Saxon Winchester

10th-century chant from the Winchester Troper

In 10th century England, especially in a great royal and monastic centre such as Winchester, Christmas – like Easter – was an occasion for liturgical celebrations of exceptional splendour and magnificence.

Apart from the Gradual, every item of both the Proper and the Ordinary of the Mass was expanded and embellished by the addition of tropes (added verses), which filled out and commented upon the standard texts, elaborating joyfully upon their doctrinal content. Some of these tropes were known all over Europe; others were local and may well have been the work of Winchester’’s own Cantor, Wulfstan.

This selection represents what might have been heard in the Old Minster during the Third Mass, or Mass of the Day, on Christmas Day. The Kyrie offers an early example of the newly-discovered technique of organum.

These first attempts at 2-part polyphony were much relished by the Winchester cantors.… There is a fascinating richness and beauty of sound in the twinned low voices, especially when heard in alternation with the unison chant. The resulting harmony is surprisingly attractive and satisfying.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


“Like the Sun in his Orb…”

13th-century chant from Salisbury Cathedral


‘The Church of Salisbury shines like the sun in his orb, among the Churches of the whole world, in its divine services and those who minister in it’’ wrote Bishop Giles de Bridport in 1256.

Indeed the so-called Rite of Sarum,– ‘Sarum’ being a misreading of the common Latin abbreviation for ‘Sarisburia’ or ‘Salisbury’ – was a rite of great magnificence, justly admired well beyond the confines of the Cathedral that gave it its name.

It is in fact a local medieval version of the Roman Rite, but a particularly splendid one. There was music for high voices as well as low in the rite of Salisbury;– the boy choristers were responsible for certain chants which they sang by themselves.

The rite became the model for countless secular (that is, non-monastic) cathedral and parish churches all over the British Isles, and was also adopted by religious of both sexes in houses that did not follow the monastic rule.

For a sample track, selected by the Director of Schola Gregoriana, Iain Simcock, click on link below:


Veilleurs dans la Nuit

Une Journee Monastique a l’Abbaye Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux (Watchers in the Night: A Monastic Day at the Abbey of Sainte-Madeleine of Barroux)

Some years ago Schola Gregoriana visited the monastery of Le Barroux, a traditional Benedictine Monastery near Avignon, where members spent a happy weekend of worship and chant.

This DVD can be ordered via the Internet or bought at the monastery shop.


The RSCM Guide to Plainchant by Dr Mary Berry

A new edition revised by John Rowlands-Pritchard