Council of Trent

   The 19th Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church (Trent, northern Italy, 13 December 1545–4 December 1563). Decrees specific to liturgical music were issued from sessions 22–24 (September 1562–November 1563) and provided that liturgical music should make words easy to understand and that no "lascivious or impure" elements of secular music should intrude. Abolishing polyphony in favor of chant may have been discussed but was not legislated. The practical results of the Council included a revised breviary (liturgical book for the divine office, 1568) and a revised missal (1570), obligatory in all dioceses unless proof of local practices older than 200 years could be shown. These publications, in effect, eliminated all troped mass ordinaries and all but four sequences accumulated since the late Middle Ages. On 25 October 1577 Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a new Roman gradual, which appeared in 1614. This so-called Medicean chant probably reflects 17th-century chant practice, including revised liturgical texts and melodies to conform to humanistic taste. A number of composers, including Giovanni da Palestrina, used inventive homorhythmic textures in polyphony to clarify diction to follow the Council’s wishes, although this effort weakened with distance from Rome. Nevertheless, the coincident invention of radically new operatic textures at the close of the 16th century helped to define consciously the church style, the stile antico, by rejecting traditional counterpoint.

Historical dictionary of sacred music. . 2006.

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