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Duomo Music Chapel, selected pages by Palestrina and Cristóbal de Morales for Sundays in Lent

Once again this year, starting on February 18th, throughout Lent, the Duomo Music Chapel – Milan’s ancient cultural institution, active uninterruptedly since 1402 – will offer some musical premieres taken from the Ambrosian repertoire and from the most significant pages of Renaissance sacred polyphony, with a view to a pertinent approach to the Sunday liturgies in the Cathedral, in preparation for Easter.


The so-called ‘Ambrosian’ chant is the musical repertoire of the Milanese Church, which, like the rite, is so called in reference to Ambrose, the holy bishop who died in 397.


In a different way from Saint Gregory the Great – after whom the Gregorian Chant is named – Ambrose was actually the author of liturgical hymns: the well-known account of Saint Augustine (baptised by Ambrose in 387) is a first-hand account of the historical circumstances in which the bishop introduced hymnody ‘secundum morem orientalium partium’ (according to the custom of the East) in Milan, making it a powerful instrument of catechesis.


In the European cultural landscape, the historical importance of Ambrosian chant is significant: it is, in fact, the only one of the archaic pre-Gregorian repertoires to have survived in liturgical practice to the present day.


As a crossroads of cultures, Milan has incorporated a multiplicity of contributions into its liturgical chant: alongside indigenous creations, texts and melodies from the Iberian Peninsula and Gaul, from the Greek and Syriac East, and from the Mediterranean world, have converged in the Ambrosian Chant, reshaped in the peculiar local style, of Italic matrix, which alternates very simple melodies with extraordinarily elaborate vocalisations.


Every Sunday of Lent, starting on February 18, 2024, at the 11 a.m. Chapter Celebration, the Musical Chapel of the Duomo of Milan will perform the entire Ambrosian Proper (Ingressa, Post Evangelium, Preces, Offertorium, Confractorium, Transitorium). The melody of each Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm is taken from the Ambrosian Proper.


Also starting on 18 February, every Sunday of Lent, at Solemn Vespers at 4.30 p.m., the Music Chapel of the Milan Duomo will perform the various Magnificats alternating between Schola and assembly by Cristóbal de Morales (Seville, 1500 – Malaga, 1553) in a new critical edition based on the first Venetian printing of 1545 at the printing house of Antonio Gardano.

In addition, as a processional chant at the beginning of Vespers, the Music Chapel will perform the offertory proper to the various Sundays of Lent by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Palestrina, c. 1525 – Rome, 1594) in a new critical edition based on the Venetian printing of 1594 at the printing house of Angelo Gardano.


At the bottom of this page, you can download the sources: the various Magnificats by Cristóbal de Morales and the offertories for the various Sundays in Lent by Palestrina.


Every Sunday, the Milan Duomo will offer all the worshippers and visitors: the possibility of downloading a liturgical aid in English onto your device, including the Sunday Readings and the Rite of the Mass, in PDF format, by means of special QR Codes located in various places in the Cathedral.


The English-language aids, which can also be accessed through the link, are also accompanied by a second file including all the musical parts, in order to facilitate greater accessibility and openness to those from all over the world who wish to experience the Duomo in its cultural and faith dimension.


Inviting everyone to experience this dimension, we remind you that all festive Chapter celebrations are streamed live on the official Duomo di Milano YouTube channel Duomo Milano Tv.