Thanks to an ad for 'Halo,' the hauntingly beautiful sounds of medieval sacred music kept interrupting the broadcast of the NCAA basketball tournament.
If you’re a millennial, or at least a video game aficionado, then you’re most likely familiar with Halo. The 2001 first-person-shooter (FPS) game is widely regarded as an influential masterpiece that revolutionized the genre.
While Halo did indeed introduce elements that still reverberate through modern FPS games – like regenerating health and limited armaments – it did something else for young players: it introduced them to Gregorian chant.
Today, Halo is a massive franchise that encompasses 16 video games, 20 books, and a new live-action television adaptation on Paramount+. Back in 2001, however, there was just Halo, and as soon as players loaded up the title screen they were met with this music.
It’s missing the tell-tale drone of a deep voiced bass and maybe some Latin lyrics, but in every other regard it is a perfect example of the Gregorian style. When listening, one can almost see a group of monks singing in a secluded chapel. The chant gives way to the fast-paced orchestrated soundtrack, but most players never got that far, as they clicked through to get back to their game.
Sports commentator Jim Nantz is not a millennial or a gamer, as he proved during the Michigan State vs. Purdue game of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. On March 12, while reading a plug for the Halo Paramount+ series, he became baffled by the solemn tones of the chant.
After giving the promotional line there was a brief rest in the music, but when the voices began singing again, Nantz commented: