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The Chant Of The Sibil·la

Before I came to live in Mallorca, I had never heard the Cant de la Sibil·la. This Gregorian chant combines a liturgical prophecy with lyrics describing the Apocalypse of the final destruction of the world and the Judicii Signum (Last Judgement). La Sibil·la goes back to a mediaeval tradition of the 10th century, or possibly even earlier. One supposes that the chant was originally sung in Greek and later in Latin, Provençal, and now, in Mallorquín. For some reason, the Sybillic chant was forbidden and abandoned after the Council of Trent (between 1545 and 1563). After that, it was only ever performed in Mallorca, Valencia and Sardinia (Italy), for reasons unbeknown to me. Nowadays, it is performed on Christmas Eve at a number of churches in Mallorca, such as tonight.

Even though the chant is supposed to be sung by a woman (Sibyl of Eritrea), the song was originally sung by a boy as for many centuries women were not allowed to sing in church. The song is sung a capella and in a solo voice, sometimes interspersed by organ music (see video below). In 2004, the Cant de la Sibil·la was declared a Bien Inmaterial de Interés Cultural in Mallorca, something like a national treasure.

Tonight, La Sibil·la will be performed by a boy, a girl or a woman in Palma’s La Seu Cathedral (23h00), in the monastery of Lluc (22h00), in Randa, Alcúdia, Algaïda, and in a couple of other places. I will probably make my way to the church of Sant Andreu in Santanyí where the lovely Irina Cotseli will chant the doomsday prophecy (22h00).

The photo was taken from the Internet. My thanks go to the Blog d’en Potti and the anonymous photographer. The video was also taken from the Internet. Many thanks to YouTube and johncpi.

Moltes gràcies and muchas gracias.

2 replies »

  1. Thank you so much for a wonderful, informative and very inspiring blog! I visit your site almost every day, always curious to see what the next topic is about. Listening to the Sibilla takes you way back in time, definitely an event well worth going to.

    I wish you a very happy Christmas and look forward to lots of new topics in the coming year.

    Kind regards,

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December 2009


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