Graduale Simplex - is it worth it?
  • I have been asked to start a schola by our PP and am looking for the best way to make the transition to a full sung Mass, with propers from the GR (over a suitable time period - at least 1 year). However, in order to go gently I would like to involve the congregation in singing some of the propers (most likely the introit). So I am wondering if it's worth investing in a copy of the Graduale Simplex?
    A quick internet search brings up many more negative comments than positive ones for this book - so I ask myself if the GS does work as a vehicle for congregational involvement. If it doesn't then we might as well just stick with the authentic chants from the GR and gradually wean the congregation off their hymns rather than passing through an intermediate stage.

    You thoughts please.....
  • I'm not sure it's realistic to expect the congregation to be able to pick up the Propers of the Mass for quite a while. That's why the Schola is there - people with the needed skills and rehearsal time to do that. Your congregation will do well to learn a few Ordinary settings and perhaps the 7 general Communion propers.

    On the other hand if you have an extraordinarily ambitious congregation willing to put in the time necessary (starting with some basic chant classes!) to learn these things I could well be wrong.
    Thanked by 1hilluminar
  • I am also not convinced that the GS would suit your purposes. It's not cheap, and if the hope is to make the tansition to the GR in a year or two, that's a lot of money to spend if you're buying several. If you are only contemplating 1 copy, then yes, I would think it's worth it. It certainly isn't the magic bullet for increased congregational participation. Chant settings of the ordinary can be found in cheaper books, such as the Liber Cantualis, or non-Solesmes books.

    I'm a fairly big fan of the GS and think it is under-utilized by choirs. Some choirs will never graduate to the GR, which was the reason for producing the GS.
  • You might start with the AUG. People do in fact sing that.
  • I am with "priorstf" on this question. Owning one copy, a copy of By Flowing Waters, and my index of the identity and the source of the Latin or Greek original for each of the chants should enable you to locate the chant you want and then photocopy it for your schola and your assembly.
  • When it comes to basic Propers, everyone should have at least four books available for reference:

    Graduale Romanum [in my case, I am getting by with the Gregorian Missal]
    The American Graduale
    Graduale Simplex
    By Flowing Waters

    The Simplex is not a poor relative of the GR, but a valuable source for chants that are required to train singers in the style of chant. Yes, you can pound the GR chants into their heads, but many singers will leave your rehearsals frustrated and some may not return.

    Being able to master a simpler chant builds a foundation for the future.

    And why have the TAG and BFW? They really help explain what the GR and GS are all about. Easy reference.

    When your schola can sing chants from the GS with beauty and grace that include the elements in a GR chant, then you can move on to the GR.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I have successfully introduced the introits for ordinary time from By Flowing Waters to our congregation over the past several months, along with a chant-based psalm (Marier, Rice, Kelly, Schmitt) and simple alleluia, reserving the more complex offertory and communion chants for the choir. At my parish there is not currently an interest in congregational singing in Latin, beyond the Sanctus and Agnus. With interest you could easily introduce the introits from the Simplex. For communions, I would recommend starting with the 7 (seven?) ad libitum chants from the Graduale throughout ordinary time for the first year. We did not tire of singing "Qui manducat" three weeks in a row last month. Then I'd sing the proper communion each week in the second year. Offertories, Graduals, and Alleluias are more difficult, and at least some of them should probably be reserved for the choir. If nothing else, having one copy of the Simplex as a reference volume would be worth the expense.
  • Thanks for your comments. I should have mentioned than any English graduals aren't much use to me as I live in France.
    I'll probably hang-fire a bit and wait to see what direction our PP really wants us to go in, but it sounds as if the GS could prove to be a useful fall-back in case a GR chant proves to be too difficult to pull off.
    I had also been thinking about the ad libitum communion antiphons as something we could sing on a regular basis to allow the congregation to become familiar with and, who knows, maybe join in with one day.
    I'm trying to get out of our pastor, who asked for a "gregorian" mass once a month, whether he wants a 4 gregorian hymn sandwich or whether he really wants to start "singing" the mass. Of course, such a question is equally valid for the vernacular as frequently discussed in this forum and elsewhere.
    My interest in the GS was really directed towards being able to offer alternatives to hymns without totally excluding the congregation - at least in the first instance until the schola could have time to master some of the more difficult chants.
    Anyway, the good news is that he wants to bring in Mass XI - Orbis Factor, as soon as possible - so it can't be too bad a start.
    Thanked by 1GregoryWeber
  • "I had also been thinking about the ad libitum communion antiphons as something we could sing on a regular basis to allow the congregation to become familiar with and, who knows, maybe join in with one day."

    Certainly the antiphons in this section are simple enough for willing members of the congregation to participate right away.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989

    I have some chants that I have simplified and set to French texts. I am attaching an example of a simplified communion, "Gustate et videte." I have others (Panem de caelo, Ego sum vitis, Qui manducat) as well as some hymns (Parce Domine, Adoro Te) if you are interested.

    I'd love to hear more about what you're singing, especially anything in French. I'm not aware of any resources for singing the antiphons of the GR or GS in French, either to chant melodies (such as those by Ford, Kelly, Ford, and Weber) or to newly composed music (Rice, et al). There is a multi-volume set by Andre Gouzes, but I didn't find it any easier for congregational singing than the GR, and certainly not of the same quality.
  • Sorry to bump this thread, but I want to ask where to purchase the Graduale Simplex. I could order it directly from LEV, but it would require what seems to be an expensive bank transfer just for the deposit. GIA sells the 1988 reprint, but there was one in '07 (or '97?), so are they different?

    Also, what exactly is By Flowing Waters? I've heard much about it, but I wasn't aware that it was so applicable to general use of Propers.
  • BenBen
    Posts: 3,114
    Not sure if you need a hard copy, but you can also find a scan here:

    By Flowing Waters is basically an englished GS.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,131
    Solesmes sells copies of the Graduale Simplex through their web site.
  • GIA and OCP also sell it.
  • GIA still sells it ("1988"), but OCP apparently does not.

    CanticaNova sells it ("1999 reprint") and includes a free "Guide to the Graduale Simplex" which contains a summary of the Latin introduction and other information.

    From the scanned copy, copyright 1975, "Editio typica altera 1975, Reimpression 1988, Reimpressio 1999, Reimpressio 2007", I infer that there are no significant differences between these three printings.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,131
    For what it's worth, I recently put together a draft translation of the introduction to the book's second edition:

    It probably doesn't differ much in substance from the official translation of the first edition intro, which ICEL prepared in 1968.

    Incidentally, a downloadable PDF copy of the whole GS is available; it's listed on the "Resources" page at
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 890
    I love the simple antiphons in the Simplex as well as By Flowing Waters. It's a great introduction to chant singing. I was just thinking that perhaps a revised edition of BFW would be a useful resource for children's choirs/school Masses, but perhaps with simpler psalm tones (like Lumen Christi/Weber) and perhaps using the revised Grail or Abbey Psalter. It would also be necessary to update the Mass texts to align with the current Missal.

    I think it would work best in a school setting where daily Mass is celebrated, but being able to sing (from memory) a common antiphon for each class of saint or for a season would be a wonderful resource.
    Thanked by 2hilluminar BruceL