Based on today’s Gospel readings on love and friendship, of God, of Christ, and of each other, much needed in our increasingly divided world, we thought we would post a couple of version of Ubi Caritas, Deus ibi est – Where there is love, there God, is an ancient Gregorian chant, which goes back to the 8th century, composed perhaps by the Carolingian priest, scholar and hymnodist Paulinus of Aquilea in 796, durin the so-called, an inaptly called, ‘Dark Ages’. The chant version is haunting in its beauty and simplicity:
There have been various polyphonic versions, the one here by Maurice Duruflé, organist and composer, was published in 1960, which seems hard to believe, given what was going on in the 60’s, musically and otherwise. But beauty may be found in the least expected places and times. Duruflé and his wife – also musically trained – were liturgically and musically conservative and tradition. They attended – unwittingly, we may presume – a ‘jazz Mass’ in 1969, and Mrs. Duruflé was visibly upset, with the great composer calling the experience a ‘scandalous travesty’. Just so, and we hope we may be nearing the end of that era.
Duruflé’s adaptation of this ancient chant – eminently fitting for the sacredness of the liturgy – builds on a theme of the first line of the chant, to transcendent effect. Our college schola has sung this numerous times, and it is a delight to sing, to hear and to pray.