The Community was blessed in its early years with the musicological wisdom and skill of Fr Walter Frere. He was able to translate the somewhat romantic commitment of the still new Anglican religious communities to singing the Chant - the traditional plainsong melodies - into an enterprise with scholarly integrity.
Initially, working from the facsimile editions of the Sarum Graduale and Antiphonale that Frere edited, the Community adapted these medieval English texts to the Eucharist and Offices. The sense of Anglican identity was very evident: the Eucharist followed the Book of Common Prayer rite and the Office was built upon the two pillars of Morning and Evening Prayer, also from the Book of Common Prayer. In addition, the little hours - Prime, Terce, Sext, None and Compline were recited.
Today, following major liturgical revisions and renewal, the chants for the Eucharist are mostly adapted from the Use of Salisbury (in An English Kyriale), but the Office chants are an adaptation of the revised monastic office as set out in the Psalterium Monasticum and the Liber Hymnarius.
The Community also makes some use of polyphony and particularly some hymns and chants from the Orthodox tradition.
All who have joined the Community for worship and enjoyed the music would be quick to recognise how greatly the rich acoustics of the Church help - sometimes making the singing seem effortless.
Episcopalians will recognize many of these tunes; they are in the Service music section of our hymnal. Many, as you will see, are labeled "Salisbury," the modern equivalent for "Sarum." A few of the chants are in Latin, but most are in English. Here's a favorite Credo of mine. Here's a nice melismatic Kyrie, labelled "'Cunctipotens' Salisbury XV (PMMS VIII)." And here's a beautiful Lord's Prayer, "based on a theme by Rimsky-Korsakov," that's got that Orthodox feel.