Pope Gregory I

Gregorian Chant

Pope Gregory I lived from around 540 until 604, and was Pope for the last 14 years of his life.  His pronouncements about the use of classical music had a lasting effect – reaching far beyond the Catholic Church alone.

  • We include the 6th century Pope Gregory I here because he was responsible for the birth of Gregorian Chant – a tradition popular from the 7th century to today, which is named after him.
  • Originally used only in church or monastic settings, there was a resurgence of interest in Gregorian Chant in the 1990s, with hundreds of thousands of albums being sold – mainly to stressed-out consumers who found it to be the perfect antidote to a busy modern lifestyle.
  • After Pope Gregory’s death, there emerged some drawings of a dove sitting on his shoulder, singing chant into his ear.  The dove was meant to represent the Holy Spirit, singing God’s own song – and from there, the term Gregorian Chant was born.
  • Pope Gregory is also the person who is believed to have first decreed that music should be ordered and catalogued according to specific dates in the Catholic Church calendar.

Did You Know?
Pope Gregory I is the patron saint of musicians.

Early Music Composers