French-speaking monks on the Continent made a lasting contribution to liturgical studies in Britain through historical and musical research.
We can mention the particular contribution made by the study and restoration of Gregorian chant by Dom Joseph Pothier OSB, monk of Solesmes (1859), sub-prior of St Martin de Ligugé (1893-1895), abbot of Saint Wandrille de Fontanelle in Normandy (1898), a monastery which he had revived in 1895.
Born in 1835 at Bouzemont, France, Dom Joseph Pothier joined Solesmes Abbey (1859) as a Benedictine monk under Abbot Dom Prosper Guéranger. He later was made sub-prior of Saint-Pierre-de-Solesmes (1862–1863 and 1866–1893), then superior of Saint-Martin-de-Ligugé Abbey (1893-1895 in Ligugé, 1895-1898 as deputy to Saint-Wandrille on behalf of Ligugé Abbey). He was eventually appointed abbot of Saint-Wandrille-de-Fontenelle (installed on the abbey throne on July 24, 1898), the Benedictine abbey in Saint-Wandrille-Rançon, Normandy – closed during the French Revolution – he had refounded since 1895, becoming its first abbot since the French Revolution, and also its first regular abbot since the 16th century.
He moved from France to Belgium with his exiled community in 1901, following the French ‘Associations law’ against religious congregations.
A musicologist, disciple and collaborator of Solesmes Abbot Dom Prosper Guéranger, Dom Pothier contributed to the reconstitution, the restoration and the renewal of the Gregorian chant, a form of monophonic, unaccompanied sacred song of the Roman Catholic Church. He was later, 1904 by Pope St. Pius X, appointed president of the Pontifical Commission on the Vatican Edition of the Gregorian Liturgical Books. As chairman of this commission for the reconstitution of the music of the Roman Catholic Mass, Dom Pothier lived inRome from 1904 till 1913.
Cantus Mariales, ed. J. Pothier, Solesmes 1903.
Les melodies grégoriennes d’apres la tradition, ed. J. Pothier, Tournai
1880, repub. Olms, Hildesheim – New York 1982, Nabu Press,
Le melodie gregoriane secondo la tradizione, tr. G. Fassicomo e Scotti,
Genova 1890, repub. Tournai-Roma 1960.
L. Deiss, Dom Joseph Pothier et la restauration du chant grégorien, Cerf,
- L.Deiss, “Dom Joseph Pothier et la restauration grégorienne et
l’Edition du Graduel Romain”, Revue du chant grégorien 62
© James Leachman, O.S.B., 17 February 2012