(Ger. Choral; It. corale; ML choralis; from Gk. choros, Lat. chorus, group of dancers and singers; chorale came into use in the 2d half of the 16th c. and is usually preferred to choral in Eng.). Hymn or psalm sung by cong. and/or choir to a traditional or composed melody. In ecclesiastical usage it denotes the choral plainsong (cantus planus) of the RC office and the hymn style that became classic in the Luth. Ch. of Germany.
The chorale developed from the cantus choralis (choral chant) introd. at the time of Gregory I (see Gregorian Music; Popes, 4). This cantus choralis was structurally monotonic, in part merely graduated, stereotyped, and recitative music. Its musical pattern was determined not with reference to the rhythm of words or to grace and expression of melody, but simply by textual notation.
From Rome choral singing of this type spread to Eng. and to the empire of Charlemagne,* who founded schools for singing N of the Alps. The most renowned of these schools, at Metz, was under the management of Rabanus* Maurus.
The chorale was the peculiar interest of the Luth. Ch.; the Ref. regarded the Psalter as the proper hymnbook and disapproved of original hymns. The Luth. chorale continued the simplicity of the Gregorian chorale. Luther used 4 sources for his chorales: official Lat. hymnody, pre-Reformation popular hymns, secular folk songs, and original hymns.
W. Apel, Gregorian Chant (Bloomington, Indiana, 1958) and Harvard Dictionary of Music, 9th print. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955); Dictionary of Music and Musicians, ed. G. Grove, 5th ed., E. Blom (New York, 1954), II, 269275; A. T. Davison and W. Apel, Historical Anthology of Music, rev. ed., 2 vols. (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 194950); W. E. Buszin, The Doctrine of the Universal Priesthood and Its Influence upon the Liturgies and Music of the Lutheran Church (St. Louis, n. d.); E. Liemohn, The Chorale Through Four Hundred Years of Musical Development as a Congregational Hymn (Philadelphia, 1953). JTS
Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
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