In the Middle Ages, the Offertory consisted of a respond and several verses of a psalm, sung responsorially by soloists. It was a very long chant that accompanied a procession of offering bread, wine, and other items to the priests. Today the Offertory consists only of a respond, having lost its psalm verses in a reform of chant. Because its psalm verses were sung by soloists and were often very ornate, the Offertory tends to be melismatic, rather than neumatic like the Introit and Communion.
An Offertory can be distinguished from other melismatic chants (Gradual, Alleluia, and Tract) because it lacks a verse; it can be distinguished from a Communion (which also lacks a verse) because it is likely to have several melismas.
NAWM 3g is an example of a Offertory in mode 4.
Last updated: 19 August 2006
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