Mallorca: The Chant of the Sybil

| April 23, 2012

On Christmas Eve, to commemorate Jesus’ birth, Balearic churches celebrate the so-called Misa del Gallo or Matines, which is accompanied by the Chant of the Sybil, a medieval musical composition that prophesies the end of the world.

Mallorca - The Chant of the Sybil

Mallorca - The Chant of the Sybil

The earliest testimony of the Chant of the Sybil (Cant de la Sibil.la in Catalan) with music and lyrics is a late-nineteenth or early-tenth-century manuscript from the monastery of San Marcial de Limoges in France.

A white-voiced child garbed in a tunic, embroidered silk robe and cap and bearing a large sword in her hands protagonises the chant. Among the most emblematic celebrations on the island of Mallorca are the Matines at the Sanctuary of Lluc and those in Majorca Cathedral.

The Chant of the Sybil was a medieval dramatisation at Christmas time that put down the deepest roots in the Spanish mainland and Catalonia, which took it to Mallorca with James I’s conquest. Yet, the Council of Trent banned the Chant of the Sybil and it disappeared from churches and was only maintained in Mallorca and the Alghero in Italy, where its widespread popularity ensured its survival.

The song was declared an Intangible Asset of Cultural Interest by the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce on January 16, 2004.

More information: www.illesbalears.es

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