Revised Grail Psalter: Approved for Liturgical Use in US
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Bishops choose Revised Grail Psalter for liturgical use in U.S.

    November 12, 2008

    By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
    Catholic News Service

    BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops chose the Revised Grail Psalter produced by the monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri over the Revised New American Bible translation of the Book of Psalms for liturgical use in the United States.

    The vote at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' meeting in Baltimore Nov. 12 was 203-5 in favor of accepting a recommendation of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship to adopt the Grail Psalter for use in all liturgical settings. The decision also must be confirmed by the Vatican.

    There was little debate before the vote and no amendments could be made to the translated psalms.

    Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, said the Revised Grail Psalter also had been recommended over the Revised New American Bible version by the Committee on Doctrine's Subcommittee on the Translation of Scripture Text and by the now-defunct music subcommittee of what was then called the Committee on the Liturgy.

    Currently the Grail Psalter, published in 1963, is used in the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily prayers that bishops, priests and deacons are required to pray daily. The NAB Psalter, which dates to 1970, is in use in all other liturgical books in the United States.

    The Revised NAB Psalter, developed in 1991, was rejected by the USCCB and the Vatican in the revision of the Lectionary for Mass in 2000, Bishop Serratelli said.

    He said there were four reasons that his committee was recommending the Revised Grail Psalter over the Revised NAB version:

    -- "It has been recommended by musicians for its musicality" and can easily be sung, chanted or recited.

    -- It is faithful to the Hebrew text.

    -- It is already "somewhat familiar" to those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

    -- "While being faithful to Hebrew imagery and anthropology, it is critically aware of the Christological references."

    The Revised Grail Psalter already has been adopted by all English-speaking episcopal conferences except the United States and Canada, Bishop Serratelli said.

    The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is currently reviewing a request from the bishops' conference of Kenya to use the Revised Grail Psalter in the revised Lectionary for Mass, he added.

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Has it been published?
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    This is ... quite the news. I was going to ask if anyone knew if this had, in fact, happened, and I see that it has.
  • RobertRobert
    Posts: 343
    Adoremus seems to approve:

    How does the revised grail differ from the '63 Grail (of which I'm rather fond)?
  • It seems like good news but it is not. GIA owns the copyright, which means another opportunity to rack in the big bucks through royalties, and exclude non-GIA composers from offering music free online.

    Meanwhile GIA promises "efficient and impartial" rights administration. Efficient for whom? Not those paying the bills.

    Think of it. Lawsuits--coercion and resource extraction at the point of a gun--for refusing to pay a private company for the right to set a part of the Mass (the Psalms, the very foundation of all Christian music!) to music and distribute that music. It is unconscionable really. Greed at the expense of faith.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Fear not, Jeffrey!

    "Conception Abbey and The Grail" hold the copyright, saith the memo, while GIA is their agent.

    Would this be a good time to request permission for non-commercial use?
  • Chonak, that's a technical nothing. GIA determines who uses it and under what conditions and at what price.

    Demanding non-commercial rights is a good start.
  • Sent to GIA:

    My question concerns your policies for the newly chosen Revised Grail Psalter. Many composers are setting the Psalms to music and posting the results online for distribution at no charge. As the agent for the copyright holder, you have publicly promised "efficient and impartial" rights administration. Does this include the rights of composers to set the Psalms and post them for free download? Certainly that would be efficient and impartial. Please clarify your precise policy.
  • Whenever there's a bureaucracy involved, inefficiency is guaranteed. So we can toss out GIA's first assertion right off the bat. Impartiality... well, according to the "prospectus," past performance is no guarantee of future behavior. (I do not consider myself impartial in any case, FWIW.)
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Doesn't GIA also publish Columba Kelly? It would be nice to see a full Lectionary cycle of psalms instead of just Advent and Lent. Or maybe GIA could publish the Marier harmonizations of the psalm tone verses set to the new translation... They did just bring "A Gregorian Chant Master Class" back into print.
  • Yeah and the price went from $29.95 to $38.00...
  • I have always loved the Grail Psalter. I wonder how different the new version is (which is the second "new" version, I think). In retrospect, I should have stuck with it all along. It's what I was singing at Mass 20+ years ago, as both the 2nd and 3rd editions of Worship (and probably the 1st) use the Grail translation. I seem to recall once requesting permission to use the translations from Christian Prayer, which was granted with little or no fuss.

    But I do wonder what the policy on preexisting settings will be in the event. Aren't previously approved translations permissible if they are already in the repertoire? Otherwise, Jeff O. and his composers (and me, for that matter) are royally screwed.
  • Exactly. It's one thing for ICEL is demand proprietary relationship with the Mass text. It is not a profit-making enterprise, and it has already granted free online rights. GIA is a business that is being granted a monopoly privilege to pick and choose its own composer and negotiate rights and charge people money which is taken from people's Sunday offerings, all to feed a massive enterprise whose finances are secret because it operates as a religious non-profit without reporting requirements. Selling of indulgences at least relied on some voluntary consent.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    "Better is one handful with tranquility than two with toil and a chase after wind!" Eccl. 4:6


    Better a small schola singing time tested ancient latin melodies than a vast congregation that can never settle on a tune.
  • Incantu,

    The new regime at the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School is considering options such as you suggest. A committee has been formed (your brother is a member) and will meet in the near future to hammer out proposals to submit to the pastor of St. Paul's, the school director and the former director/headmaster. Sadly, with the prolonged translation issues a new edition of Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Canticles will not be coming forth in the near future. Therefore, the committee will be considering whether to make all or parts of the hymnal accessible to free down-loads, whether to engage an established publisher to distribute individual items, or whether to self-publish select items that might have a wide appeal. Regarding the latter, it is important to remember that only one-third of the cost of educating each child at the school comes from tuition. If it's feasible to make money via the self-publishing route, that option will be taken seriously.

    In regards to the theme of this Forum thread, for those unfamiliar with Hymns, Psalms and Spiritual Canticles the translations of the its Psalter come from a variety of sources: the New American Bible, Revised Standard Version, 'The Psalms' by Mary Perkins Ryan, The Grail, Psalms for Modern Man, and others.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    "GIA is a business that is being granted a monopoly privilege to pick and choose its own composer and negotiate rights and charge people money"

    That's a pleasant thought . . .
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    If the RC Church is serious about promoting sacred music:

    Release the old Grail psalter to public domain or copyleft it.

    Stipulate that the new Grail psalm verses (i.e. only those that have been "revised") can be used free of charge for one-off liturgical use and download.

    Republication of the entire revised psalter as a book could come under stronger restrictions.

    This should be a gift to the Church, not a commodity like a Harry Potter novel.
  • Randolph, with all due respect, this sounds like a bureaucratic tangle. In these times, it takes brave souls with new ways of thinking to accomplish progressive publication aims. Committees invariably include one or two old-world people who believe that online access and commercial printing are substitutes, not complements. You can talk for hours and not convince them, simply because they don't know or understand how the world works in the digital age. I would predict that this process is hopeless unless someone with advanced modes of thinking can prevail over the old guard.
  • X-Post from CSense.
    "Creative commons must be, and likely will be the future terms that all interested parties should accept. The “Jeffrey’s” have laid all of the scenarios on the table at MSForum as well for months.
    Here’s a simple, just proposal for GIA- if/when their editorial boards that review settings of “their” Psalter texts submitted for publication, distribution and purchase are rejected by GIA, the composer should be pro forma granted “creative commons” for self-distribution. GIA cannot have and eat the cake at once; they know that by hook or crook such settings can find their way into parish use beyond that of the composer. They just made the decision they couldn’t financially support and benefit by rejected settings. Can anyone defend their proprietary right to exclude use of those “official” texts just because their foot was first in the door?"
  • Jeffrey,
    You may be right. I'm by far the oldest member of the three-person committee as it now stands yet undoubtedly have most to learn from the investigative process. I don't foresee internal conflict within the committee, however. We are all very committed to the choir school and its renowned hymnal and will explore every angle to see that it becomes accessible to those who want to avail themselves of its resources. Profiting financially from the venture, of course, may be a wild dream. (Creating a marketable collection of Marier's psalms for funerals, for example, is an idea I've toyed with for some time.) The more important task, however, is to sustain the Marier legacy. We do that at St. Paul Church, of course, but the goal is to share our good fortune with those outside of Cambridge.
    Your advice is always welcome.
  • Yes, that is precisely right. Always remember that your enemy is not piracy but obscurity. Put it online for free, upload it for printing on demand, and you will see revenue, not a year from now but immediately. This could happen in a matter of 3 days. Meaning: you could have this entire process completed and in place for ordering by Tuesday of next week. Most importantly, all of Marier's work will be back for the whole world. Let me know if you want my help.

  • Jeffrey,

    Thank you for your email. I have forwarded it to our Permissions department, who will review it and contact you with their response.

    Thank you once again,

    Eric Downs
    GIA Publications, Inc.
    phone: 800-442-1358 ext. 27
    fax: 708-496-3828
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Releasing the hymnal as a PDF is not easy, due to copyright issues. On the other hand, printing up new copies of the hymnal on demand is probably OK under the existing permissions Marier obtained from the rights holders.
  • Depends. Marier's original material can be posted and printed. The hymns are great but not necessary.

    That said, I'm speaking only from my vague recollection of it. I do not of course own a copy.
  • Quoth Jeffrey:
    The hymns are great but not necessary.
    That said, I'm speaking only from my vague recollection of it. I do not of course own a copy.

    That matches with my experience as a new member of the Adult Choir at St. Paul's. The hymns aren't all that different from what I was programming at my previous parish, though it's wonderful to have such a selection compiled into a single hymnal, and I enjoy Marier's harmonizations.

    But there's simply nothing else I've encountered similar to his harmonized psalm tones. We were using a combination of Gelineau tones, Jeff O.'s Chabanel arrangements, and, actually, the occasional Haugen/Haas responsorial psalm at my previous parish, and after hearing recordings I made of some of our rehearsals, the new director has been -dying- to scrap the lot for Marier's arrangements, or at least, to add them to the rotation. It was difficult to explain to him that -I- don't even have a real copy of the music, and I'm singing it every Sunday.

    If the psalm arrangements were made available to print on demand, perhaps along with the similarly styled Alleluia, they'd buy 20 copies immediately, all current/future translation issues aside.
  • G
    Posts: 1,391
    I would think besides GIA, some Vatican Congregation (CDW?) and certainly Cdl Pell, and Abp. Serratelli should be asked to address the question of whether it can possibly be just for a private company to "own" the texts of the Mass, and whether there should not be an insistence that rights be ceded (for just compensation,) to the Church.
    And when I'm not running around like a chicken with its head cut off I shall write. Perhaps we all can?

    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)
  • Let's see what GIA says. Perhaps they will see the wisdom of not using the state's coercive apparatus of laws, threats, fines, and courts to maintain a legal monopoly over the Psalms of David that we sing at Mass, because otherwise the GIA will be extracting money from poor Catholics around the country in order to build its corporate empire in the name of religion, which would be unconscionable.

  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    But I do wonder what the policy on preexisting settings will be in the event. Aren't previously approved translations permissible if they are already in the repertoire? Otherwise, Jeff O. and his composers (and me, for that matter) are royally screwed.

    I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, Richard, but others might not have appreciated it until this point: that's the beauty of using psalm tones! Yes, you will have to update the texts for your settings, but the music will stay the same. It's the Haas/Haugen settings of psalms that will have to be thrown out, if the American Church ever decides to use nothing but the official approved translations.
  • "Yes, you will have to update the texts for your settings..."

    ... he says blithely. This is not the simple automatic process you might think: various music engraving programs are notoriously fussy about text input; notes will have to be added and subtracted, based on the accent patterns; etc., etc. And, in the three-year Lectionary cycle, how many responsorial psalms are we talking about? A couple hundred? I'm tired just thinking about it.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623

    I love what you do, but font-based typesetting is still time-consuming and inflexible. What we need is a musical specification, an encoding scheme. Then let a computer do the typesetting. Here are some goals:

    1. Musically encode the entire Gregorian repertoire, including psalm tones, in a neutral format. "Just the notes." Cf. lilypond for example scheme. (I know lilypond stinks for Gregorian typesetting, but the encoding principle is bulletproof.)

    2. Make every text available in as neutral an electronic format as possible, preserving accents in the Latin.

    Here's one application: an e-psalter. Every word gets broken into syllables separated by spaces; flexes and midpoints are indicated by special characters; each verse is put on a different line. This would allow someone to write software to set any psalm text to any psalm tone automatically, and for the computer to do all the typesetting. Again, to use lilypond as an example (it's what I know), one could write a script to create a lilypond input file, which would then spit out a nice little typeset PDF. That's just one example.

    Here's another example: all the communion verses are specified and matched to text. All the typesetting is done by software. Need to make a change to the text? Just dip in and alter the input file, then run the software again. Instant update.

    Getting us all on some kind of common, neutral platform is the permanent way forward.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Yes, of course you have your work cut out for you, but at least there is no reason for music directors to abandon your settings if they've already invested in them. As wonderful as it is to have all of the text underlay, some of us have figured out how to sing the approved psalm verses from a text-only edition set to published harmonizations (such as the Marier). In fact, in French published editions it is not uncommon to have text underlay for the first verse only (even for harmonized tones), with the singers expected to fit the remained verses to the formula. Again, none of this should be news to anyone... but it's a silver lining.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Pes, not a bad idea. I often will cut a hymn text from oremus or a similar site and insert hyphens between syllables. Then I can just copy the text into Sibelius, which is often faster than typing everything out. I wonder, though, with so many differences of opinion about pointing psalms, if a computer might miss some of that human touch.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    incantu, the beauty of this is that the computer produces an input file. You can then go in and tweak the input file.

    In the meantime, let's see a list of just the changes from the Grail folks. Then we can pencil them in, if there aren't that many.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I don't understand: people seem to be saying (or suggesting) on this forum that, if the Vatican approves the Grail, the NAB will no longer be allowed....
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    There is a precedent for thinking the old version may be banished at some point: RSV and Jerusalem Bible texts were permitted in the scripture readings for years, but are no longer allowed. (If I understand right, the restriction doesn't apply to sung psalms.)
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    If we are ever going to learn the psalms, we need to decide on a single translation and stick to it.
  • This isn't about learning psalms; this is about 30 years of trying to please everybody and his polemics -- which, of course, is a never-ending and ultimately futile project.
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    Richard, I share your vexation. In my opinion, psalm translations should not result in "books" that then come under copyright protections. There should be one translation in English provided by the Vatican, like a repository. This would be the baseline English translation for liturgical use. Then follows whatever tweaking by scholars, guided by some consensus standard, which would then result in something like Vatican-approved "errata," nicely categorized and listed as such. The scholars would be given credit only for changes that meet consensus approval. They get the honor of footnotes, not copyright. Liturgical craftsmen/artists like yourself would then be able to tweak your work, instead of having to chuck it over. Oh, and put the promulgation of any changes on a ten-year schedule. Wouldn't this be the most efficient and charitable model?
  • You know, I really believe that when the Vatican went with a vernacularization, not enough thought was put into this "intellectual property" area. What it has done is create highly unfortunate fiduciary and legal ties between national conferences and large-scale publishers, logrolling at the expense of Catholics in the pews. The idea was to "bring the Mass to the people" but these relationships have effectively taken the Mass away from the people and put it into the hands of legally privileged capitalists working in tandem with national Church officials. We know next to nothing about the exact nature of the relationships--what are the amounts involved and who pays who what and why--because they are all secret by law. The best we can do is insist on our rights to the texts as Catholics.

    It is actually a good sign that the GIA has given me no response yet. Maybe some policy is being worked out.
  • In thinking back to the twenty years I spent as a professional church musician in the Anglican world, I can't help but find pathetic the combination of polemic and inneptness in the creation, dissemination, and revision of lectionary and (to a lesser extent) liturgical texts in our own Church. It's extremely discouraging that we're forced to spend valuable organizational and creative energy on a switch from a dreadful set of texts to a less-than-dreadful set of texts (I'm thinking of the psalms here: the new Mass texts will be welcome, while the continued presence of the NAB is a hideous blight). If the Fathers of the Council had foreseen this mess, the documents might have been very different indeed. One could even argue that this confusion and disruption obscures the true 'spirit' of the Council.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    I was inclined to review the section about the RP in SttL in light of the new developments. Thought you all might like to see it again. Par 158 seems to say that the church allows other settings of the Psalms if approved. Have the other settings which were previously approved been disapproved?

    Here it is:

    The Responsorial Psalm

    155. The Responsorial Psalm follows the first reading. Because it is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word, and is in effect a reading from Scripture, it has great liturgical and pastoral significance.123 Corresponding to the reading that it follows, the Responsorial Psalm is intended to foster meditation on the Word of God. Its musical setting should aid in this, being careful to not overshadow the other readings.124

    156. “As a rule the Responsorial Psalm should be sung.”125 Preferably, the Psalm is sung responsorially: “the psalmist, or cantor of the psalm, sings the psalm verses and the whole congregation joins in by singing the response.”126 If this is not possible, the Psalm is sung completely without an intervening response by the community.

    157. The proper or seasonal Responsorial Psalm from the Lectionary for Mass, with the congregation singing the response, is to be preferred to the gradual from the Graduale Romanum.127 When the Latin gradual is sung in directum (straight through) by choir alone, the congregation should be given a vernacular translation.

    158. Because the Psalm is properly a form of sung prayer, “every means available in each individual culture is to be employed”128 in fostering the singing of the Psalm at Mass, including the extraordinary options provided by the Lectionary for Mass. In addition to the proper or seasonal Psalm in the Lectionary, the Responsorial Psalm may also be taken from the Graduale Romanum or the Graduale Simplex, or it may be an antiphon and psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in paraphrase or in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the diocesan bishop.

    159. Songs or hymns that do not at least paraphrase a psalm may never be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm.129 160. If it is not possible for the Psalm to be sung, the response alone may be sung, while the lector reads the intervening verses of the Psalm “in a manner conducive to meditation on the word of God.”130
  • Pes
    Posts: 623
    159. Songs or hymns that do not at least paraphrase a psalm may never be used in place of the Responsorial Psalm

    A "paraphrase"? Good grief, you could drive a truck through that.

    This is a little off topic:

    [the RP] is an integral part of the Liturgy of the Word, and is in effect a reading from Scripture

    This has always puzzled me as being counter-intuitive. The psalms of David are obviously first and foremost expressive songs. When we sing them, their thoughts and sentiments become performative, not recitation, i.e. we occupy the position of David and sing them to God. Grafted into the history of Israel, the Psalms become our song, too.

    So why this emphasis on their being "readings" like, say, Paul's letters, or some Christological prophecy or Johannine meditation?

    First, why flatten the distinctions between the readings this way?

    Second, if the Church really wants us to meditate on the psalm texts, why on earth should it insist on our singing them? Wouldn't it be better to have a psalmist sing the whole thing and for the people to listen? What is more conducive to meditation, quick-memorization-of-melody/responsorial singing, or simple listening?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,965
    Incidentally, is the unfortunate practice of putting organ mood music under recited psalms recommended in STTL as it was in its predecessor "Music in Catholic Worship"?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    haven't seen that. whatsamatter, chonak... you don't like getting in the mood for psalm?!
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    "... mood music under recited psalms ..."

    Musicam Sacram
    # 64. The use of musical instruments to accompany the singing can act as a support to the voices, render participation easier, and achieve a deeper union in the assembly. However, their sound should not so overwhelm the voices that it is difficult to make out the text; and when some part is proclaimed aloud by the priest or a minister by virtue of his role, they should be silent.

    Music in Catholic Worship
    ... The Liturgical Judgement ... G. The Organist and Other Instrumentalists ...
    # 37. Song is not the only kind of music suitable for liturgical celebration. Music performed on the organ and other instruments can stimulate feelings of joy and contemplation at appropriate times.20 This can be done effectively at the following points: an instrumental prelude, a soft background to a spoken psalm, at the preparation of the gifts in place of singing, during portions of the communion rite, and the recessional. ...

    [no text regarding psalm]
    # 32. The nature of the "presidential" texts demands that they be spoken in a loud and clear voice and that everyone listen with attention.[44] Thus, while the priest is speaking these texts, there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent.

    Redemptionis sacramentum
    [no text regarding psalm]
    # 53. While the Priest proclaims the Eucharistic Prayer "there should be no other prayers or singing, and the organ or other musical instruments should be silent",[132] except for the people’s acclamations that have been duly approved, as described below.

    Toward a Revision of Music in Catholic Worship by William Mahrt
    37. The organ should not be used as background music: “soft background to a spoken psalm” is a very bad idea.

    Sing To The Lord
    [no remnant of the 1972 text found by individual word searches (gentle, quiet, soft, background, psalm)]
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    God be praised without background music! Thanks, eft.
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    I don't see anything wrong with putting soft organ under the spoken Psalm and calling it Pierrot Lunaire: Pierrot Lunaire
  • francis
    Posts: 10,144
    hmmm.... looks like the clown masses again.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,756
    Nah, you have to have Wagner for psalms. If we are turning mass into theater, then let's do it right! A few tubas and timpani would wake up the congregation. BTW, is there a published version of the Revised Grail Psalter available?
  • Hey, that Youtube is sort of creepy.

    The GIA says that it will publish the first volume of this. After all, they own it! You don't!