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Gradual Progress in Recovery of Sacr

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					    Gradual Progress in Recovery of Sacred Music


    The Roman Gradual (Graduale Romanum) is the official book of
liturgical music for Mass. It contains all the plain-song (chant) music
for the Ordinary of the Mass (Ordinarium Missae, or Kyriale) as well as
all the Propers for the entire liturgical year.

    A word of explanation. The name “Gradual” comes from the most ancient
and important psalm chant that was sung between the Epistle and the
Gospel — comparable to the Responsorial Psalm in the present Roman
Missal. This Gradual chant was part of the Proper of the Mass — that is,
the texts for Mass that change according to the feast or season of the
liturgical year. The other three Proper chants of the Mass, the Introit,
Offertory, and Communion, were introduced later, and are usually verses
from psalms or other Scripture texts. The fixed texts that do not vary,
such as the Kyrie (Lord, have mercy), the Gloria, Credo, Agnus Dei (Lamb
of God), etc., are known as the Ordinary of the Mass.

    Efforts to Encourage Chant in Parishes

    In 1908, the Graduale Romanum was compiled from ancient sources and
approved for publication by the Vatican. Following the Second Vatican
Council, a new official version of the Graduale Romanum was published in
Latin in 1974 by the Benedictine monks of Solesmes, France.

    By the time the updated Graduale Romanum appeared, the vernacular had
been used at Mass for a decade, and new music in the contemporary style
had effectively supplanted chant — even though the Council had stressed
the importance of Gregorian chant in the celebration of Mass. The Propers
of the Mass were rarely sung.

    In the same year that the Graduale Romanum was published, Pope Paul
VI, recognizing that chant had virtually disappeared, made an effort to
encourage the singing of chant at Mass by publishing Jubilate Deo, a
booklet of basic Latin chants and hymns. Jubilate Deo provided a “minimum
repertoire of Gregorian chant” — an official Latin “core repertoire” for
the Roman Rite. It was prepared, the pope said, in order “to make it
easier for Christians to achieve unity and spiritual harmony with their
brothers and with the living tradition of the past. Hence it is that
those who are trying to improve the quality of congregational singing
cannot refuse Gregorian chant the place which is due to it” (Voluntati
Obsequens).

    In April 1974, Pope Paul sent a copy of the Jubilate Deo booklet to
every bishop in the world. But his effort did not succeed in restoring
chant to the Church’s musical vocabulary.

    An expanded edition of the Jubilate Deo produced by the Congregation
for Divine Worship in 1987 was similarly ignored. Translating the
contents of the entire Graduale Romanum collection of chants — or even
the Propers of the Mass — into English was not on the radar screen. The
Church’s ancient heritage of sacred music that the Second Vatican Council
expressly wished to maintain seemed doomed to oblivion. Any hope that the
chants of the Mass might ever be sung by an ordinary Catholic
congregation seemed utterly futile.

    During the past fifteen years, however, there has been a revival of
interest in Gregorian chant in the celebration of Mass, as part of
renewed efforts to recover a sense of sacredness and reverence. The
Adoremus Hymnal, when it appeared in 1997, was an early sign of renewed
interest in sacred music and chant. Since then, there have been other
promising developments in liturgical music (as often reported in these
pages).

    The Saint Louis Gradual

    Among the most recent signs of this rather dramatic revival now in
progress is the Saint Louis Gradual, which is in the final stages of
preparation.

    The Saint Louis Gradual provides English chant settings for the newly
approved English texts of the Roman Missal. It is the work of Benedictine
Father Samuel Weber, director of the Institute of Sacred Music of the
Archdiocese of Saint Louis, established in 2007 by Archbishop Raymond
Burke, who gave the project its initial impetus.

    Father Weber has also prepared a Saint Louis Hymnal for the Hours, to
be published in August 2010. He will be a featured speaker at the
international conference on sacred music to be held this summer in
Ireland. (See AB April, p. 2).

    The Saint Louis Gradual contains

    • All the Propers of the Mass given in the Roman Missal (Introits,
chants after the readings, Offertories and Communions) for the entire
liturgical year in English.

    • A selection of settings in Latin and in English of the Ordinary
(Common) of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, etc.)

    • The Simple Gradual (Graduale Simplex), simpler chant settings that
may be used for most Sundays of the liturgical year, as well as for major
solemnities and feasts

    • A selection of supplementary chants that might be used at Mass as
motets or hymns, e.g., Adoro te devote, Ave verum Corpus, Pange lingua.

    • The Sequences: Victimi Paschali, Easter; Veni Sancte Spiritus,
Pentecost (also Lauda Sion, optional for Corpus Christi; the Marian
sequence, Stabat Mater; and the Dies Irae for Requiem Masses and All
Souls.)

    The chant settings in the Saint Louis Gradual will be given in three
forms: easy, more complex, and very simple refrains. It will include
complete organ accompaniments in low, medium and high keys. An
accompanying cantor book will contain all the psalms verses in their
proper tones needed by the cantor.

				
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