Grand Chantre

Grand Chantre (Precentor). In the 15th century this term was used to refer to a church dignitary in charge of the singing of the choir in cathedrals and collegiate churches. On special holidays he donned the cope and bore the cantor's rod as symbols of his authority.

Grand Chantre

Grand Chantre (Precentor). In the 15th century this term was used to refer to a church dignitary in charge of the singing of the choir in cathedrals and collegiate churches. On special holidays he donned the cope and bore the cantor's rod as symbols of his authority.

Monseigneur de Laval, the first bishop of Quebec, introduced the position to Canada when he formed the chapter of the bishopric of Quebec in 1684. The Grand Chantre's function was to assume 'the overall responsibility for the ceremonies and everything relating to the external form of worship' (Edmond Langevin, Notice biographique sur François de Laval de Montmorency..., Montreal 1874). The first incumbent was Jean Dudouyt or Dudoyt (ca 1628-88), who was appointed by Mgr de Laval in 1684. As he went back to France and never returned to Quebec City, he did not in fact occupy the position. Charles Glandelet was temporary Grand Chantre in 1688. André-Louis de Merlac, a priest who came from France in 1688, held the post from 1690 to 1694. Louis-Ango de Maizerets (1636-1721) was de Merlac's successor and occupied the position from 1698 until his death. Another French priest, Joseph de la Colombière (1651-1723), was appointed in 1722. Father Pierre Hazeur de l'Orme also appears to have served for an indefinite period after 1710, and Jean Girard who arrived in Montreal in 1724 is described as 'modérateur du chant' in Henri Gauthier's Sulpitiana (Montreal 1926). In La Musique au Québec, Willy Amtmann describes Father Charles-Amador Martin as Grand Chantre, but without disclosing his authority for the claim.

The function of Grand Chantre is similar to that of precentor in England and cantor in Germany. It later merged with that of choirmaster or conductor of choirs in monastic churches.