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 Katharine Le Mée - Gregorian Chant Books

                  Benedictine Gift to Music The Benedictine Gift to Music
(Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2003)


This book illustrates how Gregorian chant, faithfully practiced each day for centuries by the Benedictines in monasteries and convents across Europe, developed into the complex polyphonic music we enjoy today. It details the outstanding contributions of the Benedictine musicians from the sixth-century Abbey of St. Benedict to the modern French Abbey of Solesmes.

For contemporary performers, composers of sacred music, and those interested in singing Gregorian chant, The Benedictine Gift to Music explains the opportunity that chant provides to still the mind and enter in a meaningful way into the contemplative tradition of the Church.



What others have said about The Benedictine Gift to Music:

"In this deeply informative and thoroughly readable book, Katharine Le Mée skillfully shows us how the early Benedictines formulated the first ideas of what we now call "western music," from pre-Christian sources through a succession of progressive and visionary musicians until the resurgence of interest in Gregorian chant. Here is a valuable source book for anyone concerned with the Rule of St. Benedict and the development of music, written with sensitivity and full of insights."

- Esther de Waal, author of Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Lost in Wonder, and many other books on Benedictine and Celtic spirituality.

"In this age of muzak, millions have discovered the power of chant. Their instinct for sanity deserves support. Katharine Le Mée offers precisely this support in her well-researched and readable book The Benedictine Gift to Music. Every lover of Gregorian chant needs this book; it belongs in every public library."

- Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B., Benedictine monk and author of Gratefulness: The Heart of Prayer; Music of Silence: A Sacred Journey through the Hours of the Day.

"I have read Katharine Le Mée's book "The Benedictine Gift to Music" with great pleasure and admiration. This work may be described as an authentic fingertip library about the origins and development of sacred music and its particular relation to the Order of St. Benedict over the centuries. The book is both informative and entertaining as it arouses and rewards the curiosity of the reader. The volume would be very useful for music scholars and church musicians alike."

- Maestro J.E. Goettsche, Titular Organist of the Basilica of St. Peter at the Vatican

"It is timely to probe more deeply the origins of the plainchant, in particular the Benedictine monastic origins from which arose so much of the extant materials available today that contain this music. The author takes pains to bring out the importance of the Benedictine monks for the notation and the theory of the plainchant, as well as its earliest instrumental accompaniment. But one cannot help but be struck that there is much more than history here. In addition to that data, we are introduced to something of the mysticism which may be seen to underlie the music. It may be that the extensive development of what might be called "the mysticism of the octave" will surprise many readers. With this, Le Mée wants to acquaint us with some of the inner spirit which is expressed in this form of song.

- Marcel Rooney, O.S.B., former Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation

Read chapter 8 of "The Benedictine Gift to Music", [PDF]

This book is available through amazon.com




Chant: The
                Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian
                ChantChant: The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant (New York: Bell Tower, 1994)


This book traces the history of Gregorian chant, from the founding of the Benedictine Order in Italy in the sixth century to the present day, and shows how, from the days of early Christianity, liturgical singing has been used as a spiritual exercise. Katharine Le Mée explains the construction of the chant and the special techniques that must be employed to sing it properly. She also explores the effect of these simple, pure, unaccompanied tones on the body, mind, and heart as she describes recent research on the extraordinary therapeutic power of the human voice and its ability to transform consciousness.


Chant was commissioned to accompany the popular compact disk of the same name sung by the monks of the Benedictine Abbey of Santo Domingo de Silos in Spain and released by Angel records in 1993. It contains complete translations of all the chants sung on the recording.



What others have said about Chant:

In Chant, the companion to the recording, Katharine Le Mée, a leader of workshops on medieval music, examines the extraordinary therapeutic qualities of this calm, measured music as she traces its history and spiritual depths and explains how the music is written and sung. ..Filled with invaluable historical and musical information, Chant is a book that will deepen and enhance your appreciation for this glorious music.

- Book of the Month Club News

One of the practices most conducive to spiritual heightening while on retreat is chanting, and Katharine Le Mée, who is a linguist, singer and conductor, has written an exquisite petite treatise on this subject. Chant: The Origins, Form, Practice, and Healing Power of Gregorian Chant presents a gentle picture of this nurturing, serene, and sacred musical form, both as a devotional practice and a therapeutic agent. Le Mée's graceful book offers a lovely way to prepare for spiritual retreat.

-Science of Mind

Chant, the book, explains how and where Gregorian chant originated in the Middle Ages. Described in detail are how it has transformed throughout its history of 1300 years, who first performed these religious songs, and what the songs' original purpose was. Included is some of the latest research, which explains Gregorian chant's therapeutic effect on body, mind, heart, and soul. This book also includes the fully translated words of the popular recording. Chant's author, Katharine Le Mée, has done a thorough job of bringing all the details to light and has done it in an entertaining way.

- Doreen Thirkell for the National Review Network

This book, about the size of a CD case...even comes with text and translation of the now famous Santo Domingo de Silos collection. But Chant is more than just a companion volume; there is at least as much to commend it as the music which inspired it. A surprising wealth of well written information packed into 152 brief pages, plus a short discography, translations, and a brief biography of the author...Along the way, there are generous bits (and more!) of insightful reflections on this ancient art form rediscovered and revived for today's church and the world. Enough technical information to be a refreshing review for those who "know chant," and lots of interest for those seeking an introduction.

-Bookviews, Theological Book Service


The book is available at:



The cassette is available at: