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Review of Sean Gallagher, James Haar, John Nadas, and Timothy Striplin, eds. Western Plainchant in the First Millennium: Studies in the Medieval Liturgy. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2004.

Dohoney, Ryan W.

The untimely passing of James McKinnon in 1999 remains a point of great
sorrow not only among scholars of medieval liturgy and chant but also
among the musicological community at large. The publication of his magnum
opus The Advent Project (2000) and subsequent scholarly debate
sparked by its provocative history of the composition of Roman Mass Propers
have insured that his legacy will remain vital to students of chant and religious
studies for decades to come.
As Kenneth Levy notes in his contribution to Western Plainchaint, the
first millennium was the "Lake Erie of [McKinnon's] musicological boatings"
(231). Beginning with his publication in the first issue of Current Musicology,
James McKinnon was a tireless investigator into the music of the Christian
liturgy from late antiquity through the early Middle Ages. While his
initial work explored the place of instruments within the music of the Christian
liturgies of the first millennium (1965), his later work focused on the
organization and development of the Roman Mass. In the mid-1980s,
McKinnon began ambitious studies into the origins of the Mass Proper. His
examination of psalmody in the ancient synagogue argued that psalmody
did not have its origins in Jewish practice as thought by earlier scholars
such as Peter Wagner (McKinnon 1986). Instead, McKinnon posited a late
fourth-century "psalmodic movement" that popularized psalm-singing in
monastic communities and led to the formation of the Gradual as psalm-singing
became a greater part of both monastic and lay liturgical expression
(1987; 1994).



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November 5, 2014