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Los gozos a la Virgen de la Ermitana

Los gozos a la Virgen de la Ermitana

"The chants are a semi-popular genre of medieval poetry based upon collective memory and events (A. Comas, V-4, in Riquer´s Catalan Literature)

The chants signify one of the more genuine religious practices and made possible the maintenance of the mother tongue during the centuries of decadence, for nearly every village in Cataluña and Valencia used these chants.

The chants, or gozos in spanish, are a form of popular liturgy practised in acts of collective devotion, and would exahlt the wonders of the Virgin Mary, our Holy Father, or Saints, and they always had a purpose..

Peñiscola maintains alive this liturgical form with the chants to the Virgen of the Ermitana, which, unfortunately are griten in castilian spanish, and not the native language. It is highly probable that other versions were written in the local language which would have been translated or modified after the Spanish war of Sucession, as what would happen with the Battle of the Moors and Christians. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore that the custom of singing these chants to implore divine protection is a very old tradition, which can be documented in the Cronics of Ramón Muntaner, during which period the official language was not castilian spanish.

In the gozos specifically of Peñiscola, alter each verse there appears:

"We Pray to you Queen and Lady

Virgen Saint of the Ermitana.".

The authors of these chants are by and large anonymous, although some professional poets have griten some. Most, however were written by the gentry of the village, as could be the case for the Gozos of Peñiscola.

This genre is esentially a narrative which nearly always explains the meeting o fan image, the miracles which have been performed and the protection that this exerts of a city.

In the case of Peñiscola, we need to ratify this general idea, and put into question some historical issues. We refer to the second verse of the chants.

Another common characteristic of all of these chants are the historical events and literary references, and its format usually is “in folio” with a heading of the name of the legend and a print of the image to be adores. The text is distributed into 2 or 3 columns with a final “oratio”, all of which is kept within a case. In the format of the Virgin of the Ermitana, the are three columns under the “let us Pray” Oremus.

Whilst the text of the chants would normally be transmitted in griten form, especially during the 18 and 19 Centuries, the melody would be transmitted verbally, and the same melody would be used for may various chants.