The term "Mozarabic" refers to Christians living under Arabic rule in medieval Spain, and identifies the Old Spanish rite (also called Visigothic), which remained in use there. Mozarabic chant, then, is the liturgical plainchant of the Mozarabic rite of the Western church in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). The rite and chant was replaced by Muslim and Christian conquest and reconquest, and was revived in the early 16th Century.
The Arian Visigoths, driven from Aquitaine into Spain in the early sixth century, became Catholic in 587. The Muslims overran Spain within a few years after 711, leaving only a remnant of the Visigothic kingdom along the northern shore of Spain. The seventh century marked the zenith of the Old Spanish rite, which had developed among the Visigoths from the liturgy of the Christians living in Spain under the Roman Empire. There are few traces of the Old Spanish rite from the era before 711.
The rite and chant form continued in use under the Muslim conquest, but was replaced with the Roman rite after the Christian reconquest. The Verona Orationale is a collection of Office prayers that was brought to Italy for safekeeping during the Arab invasion. It must date from about 700, and it not only witnesses to the literary style of the rite but it also contains marginal cues of chant texts. An early chant manuscript is the Léon Antiphoner, a tenth-century copy of a seventh-century source, but a number of other chant manuscripts were made in the Visigothic kingdom from the ninth to eleventh centuries. The neumes, like Frankish neumes of the same period, cannot be deciphered, since there are no related manuscripts containing these chants in staff notation to assist in reading them.
Mozarabic rite and it’s chant is closely related to the other minor western liturgies such as the Gallican, Ambrosian and Roman. Little is actually known about the chant, as most of the surviving manuscripts are contain neumes that show the contour of the chant, but no pitches or intervals. Less than twenty manuscripts contain scores that can be transcribed, and although its original form is largely lost, a few chants have survived with readable musical notation. The Mozarabic rite was revived in the early 16th century by Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros with the publication of a Mozarabic Missal and Breviary, and continues to be used in Toledo and a few other locations in Spain. However, the chant used for this restored rite shows significant influence from Gregorian chant and probably doesn’t resemble the chant sung prior to the reconquest.
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