The order of the Knights Templar was founded in 1128 by nine nobles who were granted the use of the redundant temple of Solomon in Jerusalem as a headquarters from which they could fulfil their mission of giving protection to the many pilgrims who flocked to the Holy Places. The constitution of the Order was governed by the Council of Troyes which included a stipulation that the canonical rules of the Divine Service must be followed unconditionally.

Expansion of the Order followed swiftly with strongholds being built throughout western Europe. One of the most important of these was that of Tomar in Portugal where both chaplains of the liturgy and canons of the military (they were not “monks”) were assiduous in their observance of the ecclesiastical rules of the Holy Sepulchre even at times of battle against the Moorish armies.

Although the administrative records maintained by the Order are plentiful in their chronological listings, there existed no manuscript of the plainchant which would have been sung throughout the churches of the Order´s many fortifications. But recently a document preserved at the Chateau de Chantilly was dated to the late twelfth century and found to contain the complete office . This has been diligently interpreted and recorded by the Ensemble Organum under the direction of Marcel Pérès and released as a CD (HMO 8905302) by Harmonia Mundi who include the full texts of the chants on their website.

To hear this polyphony is fascinating and scenes of the ancient observations by the Knights Templars come easily to the imagination – especially by candle light!