Further analysis of the antiphons: Graduale vs. Missale
  • The article by Christoph Tietze in Sacred Music 133.4 (Winter 2006) is very enlightening. Most readers of this forum are no doubt aware that there are vast differences in the antiphon texts found in the Missale Romanum (Roman Missal) (MR) compared to those found in the Graduale Romanum (Roman Gradual) (GR). The historical difference is that the MR antiphons were composed for the spoken recitation of a priest at spoken masses, while the GR antiphons have always retained their primacy in sung masses. Tietze demonstrates that in the current U.S. edition of the GIRM there is no real differentiation between the MR antiphons and the GR antiphons. He suggests that "the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy assumed that the MR and GR antiphons were identical" which is evidenced by reading the rubrics that govern the processional chants. The Latin General Instruction without U.S. adaptation makes the distinction between the two clear.

    I previously assumed that where the MR texts stray from the GR it was likely for the purpose of matching more closely the readings of the 3-year lectionary cycle. Most of the Introits generally agree, and so do the Communions during the privileged seasons. However the MR Communions depart from the GR Communions quite a bit during Ordinary Time, just as the 3-year lectionary does from the old 1-year cycle. I studied Tietze's data on the differences between the MR and GR antiphons more closely and found some pretty alarming results.

    Here is his chart with my own highlighting added in 4 colors to Tietze's original nomenclature.
    -Underlined texts are taken from the First or Second readings or to the Gospel of the given liturgy.
    -Yellow shows where the GR texts match the MR
    -Purple shows GR texts that were replaced by new MR texts
    -Green shows instances where a MR antiphon replaces a GR antiphon and the MR is more closely connected to the readings
    -Red WITHOUT AN UNDERLINE shows instances where MR antiphons that have no apparent connection to the readings replace GR antiphons
    -Red WITH AN UNDERLINE shows instances where MR antiphons do have a connection to the readings BUT replace GR antiphons that ALSO have a connection to the readings
    (edited 2.2.2010)


    I'm guessing that a part of the reason why this is is because the MR antiphons were composed before the GR of 1974 was rearranged to coordinate with the 3-year lectionary. (Is this correct?) The tragedy, though, is that the GR wasn't rearranged first so that new additions to the MR could have been made from existing sung texts from the chant corpus.

    In the end it seems that the GR antiphons make more sense for the 3-year lectionary than do the MR antiphons, all obvious distinctions between the two sets aside.
  • In the end it seems that the GR antiphons make more sense for the 3-year lectionary than do the MR antiphons, all obvious distinctions between the two sets aside
    Indeed!

    Thanks for this work.
  • Man, what IS all this mess?

    What is the MR and who uses it? This contradiction and confusion is all so tiring.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,323
    Amen. And there are those who actually wonder why so many musicians have chucked the whole thing.
  • "What is the MR and who uses it?"

    "MR" stands for Missale Romanum, or in English, the Roman Missal.

    "And there are those who actually wonder why so many musicians have chucked the whole thing."

    I agree with this. I'm not trying to be inspirational here, and I acknowledge the esoterica, but it is a question that has mystified me and many others, so we keep digging to try to find the answer. Most importantly, sorting out the mess will surely be helpful in determining how we move forward!

    Also, I admit that the above is a bit disorganized and rushed. I'm trying to make the data a little more clear and will add it here...
  • To clarify, Mr Bartlett, my exasperation isn't with you. It's with the "experts" who hacked all this stuff together in the first place, with zero respect for any tradition.
  • --deleted--
  • Okay, here is a simpler way of putting what I'm trying to say. I apologize for the hastiness with which I posted the first post--I have to work on stopping thinking out loud!

    This is the issue: I have been told by more than one very educated, seasoned and trusted professional in the field of liturgy that, although the antiphons found in the Missale Romanum (MR) are intended only to be spoken it is okay to sing them because a.) they can be merely seen as "additional options" to the Graduale Romanum (GR) antiphons or b.) they are actually preferred because they were compiled with the 3-year lectionary in mind, as opposed to the compiling of the corpus of Gregorian chant which was composed only with a 1-year cycle in mind.

    From this standpoint I assumed that the arrangement of the MR introit and communion antiphons was possibly better suited to the 3-year lectionary than the 1974 GR texts. The musical settings found in the GR, of course, are unchangeable because they belong to the treasury of Gregorian chant, which is strictly speaking a closed canon. It seemed, then, that the arrangement of the chants of the GR (1974) was a sort of compromise to assure the use of authentic repertoire in a way that best, but not perfectly, harmonized with the 3-year lectionary.

    I took a closer look recently to Tietze's article (linked to above) entitled "Graduale or Missale: Confusion Resolved" and made an alarming discovery. I discovered that, according to Tietze's analysis of the antiphons, the MR antiphons do not seem to improve upon the GR 1974 antiphons at all in regard to their being based on or closely related to the lectionary readings. In fact there are only 4 cases (only 4!!!) where a MR antiphon is based on the lectionary readings where its GR counterpart is not. More alarming still, there are 22 instances that I count where the MR antiphon is not closely related to the lectionary readings where the GR antiphons are!!!

    Now, I know that antiphons do not have to be from or intrinsically connected to the lectionary readings of a given liturgy in order for them to be efficacious. This is very apparent in the liturgical tradition. What I have discovered, though, is that the argument that the MR antiphons are better suited to the 1969 3-year lectionary than the GR antiphons is just simply not true. At least according to the research that Tietze did in his article in question.

    Here is a simple breakdown of how I color coded Tietze's chart, with the summary of what it demonstrates:

    YELLOW shows instances where GR texts match the MR texts.
    Results: 118 (8 of which are truncated, embellished or significantly altered)

    PURPLE shows instances where GR texts are not found in the MR. (i.e. supersede authentic chant texts)
    Results: 89

    RED shows instances where MR texts are not found in the GR. (i.e. newly confected in 1969)
    Results: 90

    GREEN shows instances where new MR antiphons (confected in 1969) are based on or closely related to the lectionary readings, which replace GR texts that are not based on or closely related to the lectionary readings:
    Results: 4 (only 4!!!)

    To conclude, as I stated above, not only are the MR texts not more harmonious with the lectionary than the GR is, the arrangement of the texts of the Graduale Romanum (1974) actually seems to be more harmonious with the 3-year lectionary than the antiphon texts of the Missale Romanum! This is clearly not exhaustive research, but just an analysis of another man's research. Surely more would have to be done to prove this point conclusively.

    What it demonstrates, though, I think, is that the real proper antiphons of the Mass are found in the Graduale Romanum--big surprise! We all know this already! I hope I'm not just restating something that everyone already knows... (am I?) In the end I tend to agree with Tietze and his conclusion: "I am encouraged by the thought that the new antiphon texts are a product of their time, and that sooner or later, our people will yearn for texts which present a deeper theology and which have provided spiritual nourishment for 1,500 years, and they will find them in the texts of the Graduale Romanum."

    also, the file above has been updated with a few corrections...
  • dvalerio
    Posts: 341
    Just two short comments:

    > although the antiphons found in the Missale Romanum (MR) are intended only to be spoken it is okay to sing them

    This seems to be standard practice in many countries; in mine (Portugal) it surely is: we have had for decades complete musical settings of all entrance and communion antiphons for Sundays and Feasts found in the Portuguese version of the Roman Missal. There are many collections of such antiphons, with several degrees of difficulty (and musical quality!), many of them by priests, some of them being members of the National Commission for Liturgy. Parishes with good liturgical music make use of such settings; others just use a random hymn; nowhere are the propers from the Gradual sung. Actually never in my life had I heard that in sung Masses the antiphons in the Gradual are what is to be sung (the antiphons in the Missal being only for spoken Masses) before I began reading the Musica Sacra website a few years ago. This rubric-compliant opinion is, here in my country, not minoritary: it is non-existent!

    > the treasury of Gregorian chant (...) is strictly speaking a closed canon

    That is because it is currelntly hold to be no longer admissible to adapt extant melodies to new antiphons, even less to compose new melodies. Yet that was routinely done till half a century ago... and those who sing EF Masses in Gregorian Chant have no option but singing lots and lots of such neo-gregorian stuff...
  • Adam, this is a very important discovery. If Sacred Music did color, I would run this chart in the publication.

    The complications here are almost too much to be believed. Someone was not paying attention to the big picture when the idea of new Missal-specific propers was dreamed up. When I think of the inevitability of the "reform of the reform" this is the first case that comes to mind. It surely cannot stay like this.

    I've never heard of a single defense of the current structure. Never. Hardly anyone even understands it. I never bring this stuff up when speaking to groups for example. It is crazy confusing and has no basis in anything traditional, rational, sensible, etc.

    By the way, I think it is clear that ICEL doesn't understand this either - and very few Bishops either. Note that the Graduale propers are not part of the translation projects - which is all to the good in my view.
  • Jeffrey,
    Couldn't you do the same thing with a combination of capitals, italics, bold, bolditalics, underline, etc? It could be made to work without color.

    This is a really neat thing that Adam did. Kudos! The paucity of green might seem discouraging, but it could offer good cover for singing the proper chants.
  • I need to make one clarification in the analysis of this chart. As I was analyzing Tietze's data I was so struck by the magnitude of the "red" and the sparsity of the "green" that I jumped quickly to report the data. It made it to the NLM blog before I could offer the more thorough analysis above. I have to clarify the analysis of the "red" because as it is stated below there's actually an inaccuracy.

    Here is how it originally read:

    -Underlined texts are taken from the First or Second readings or to the Gospel of the given liturgy.
    -Yellow shows where the GR texts match the MR
    -Purple shows GR texts that were replaced by new MR texts
    -Green shows instances where a MR antiphon replaces a GR antiphon and the MR is more closely connected to the readings
    -Red shows instances where MR antiphons that have no apparent connection to the readings replace GR antiphons

    This is how it should read to be clearer:

    -Underlined texts are taken from the First or Second readings or to the Gospel of the given liturgy.
    -Yellow shows where the GR texts match the MR
    -Purple shows GR texts that were replaced by new MR texts
    -Green shows instances where a MR antiphon replaces a GR antiphon and the MR is more closely connected to the readings
    -Red WITHOUT AN UNDERLINE shows instances where MR antiphons that have no apparent connection to the readings replace GR antiphons
    -Red WITH AN UNDERLINE shows instances where MR antiphons do have a connection to the readings BUT replace GR antiphons that ALSO have a connection to the readings

    I will update the first post above to be more clear. Jeffrey, should this clarification also be made on the NLM? I a very weary of dispersing misinformation or of being too vague.

    This was a mistake and I apologize for this. I don't think that it negates any of the conclusions drawn thus far though.
  • Couldn't you do the same thing with a combination of capitals, italics, bold, bolditalics, underline, etc? It could be made to work without color.


    I agree that this is possible, and I think that Tietze actually tried this with his original nomenclature. The color does really just helps bring out his results in a very striking way!
  • Someone was not paying attention to the big picture when the idea of new Missal-specific propers was dreamed up.


    I think that there's a lot that can be explored here, in regard to the intentions of the compilers of the Missale antiphons. What needs to be taken into account, too, is that the Missale antiphons were confected in 1969 and the Graduale in 1974. It seems, though, that by the time 1974 came around there was no apparent interest in updating the Missale antiphons to conform with the Graduale. It may be even more likely that by this time no one sung propers anyway so hardly anyone even knew that the two sets were different.

    In fact, this process that happened with the Missale seems to have also happened with the Divine Office (Liturgia Horarum). The Latin edition "Liturgia Horarum" was promulgated in 1971 with the English translation following in 1975. A plan for singing of the antiphons with the new arrangement didn't appear until 1983 (Ordo Cantus Officii), which required a stack of at least 10 different chant books to be useful, and only last week we saw the first official published book that arranges Liturgia Horarum to be sung with authentic Gregorian antiphons. The problem here seems to be that the antiphons of the Liturgia Horarum are not taken from the corpus of Gregorian chant. If they were anyone could easily pull antiphons from the previous Antiphonale Romanum.

    So the question seems to be: Why in the Mass and the Office, both of which are intended to be sung, are the antiphons not always taken from the Gregorian chant corpus?

    Regardless of the possible answers to this question, it seems that antiphons that were created for the purpose of a spoken recitation did quite a bit in eliminating the singing of Gregorian chant in liturgical practice.

    I've never heard of a single defense of the current structure. Never. Hardly anyone even understands it.


    I don't know if anyone saw the USCCB session that approved the final portion of the Roman Missal translation, a few months ago. Bishop Trautman was making a stand against allowing the U.S. Bishops to allow the Vatican to translate the antiphons of the Missal. He asserted that it was the right of the USCCB to approve this translation and implored Cardinal George on why he allowed this to happen. Cardinal George's only response seemed to be that the antiphons were "less important" than the rest of the Missal text and he saw no problem in relegating their translation to the Vatican for the purpose of speeding up the process. I have no problem with Cardinal George's decision by the way! But the point is that the antiphons of the Mass definitely seem to be the red-headed step child of the Mass texts, at least in the view of the U.S. Bishops. The U.S. adaptations of the GIRM demonstrate, as said by Tietze, that the Liturgy Committee doesn't even seem to understand that there are differences between the antiphons of the MR and GR.

    Tietze said in his article that he sent a letter to the U.S. Bishops, though, pointing out the error. I have heard that those portions of the GIRM have been reconsidered and that they will be updated in the final appearance of the new Missal. Perhaps we will have to wait and see if this has happened.
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    I think this is part of a larger problem that is more dangerous: the idea that music should correspond with the readings in the first place. At my parish, the liturgy committee and the musician for the evening guitar Mass look at the readings for a given season and them try to come up with a "theme" for that season, expecting me to choose music to go with that theme. My response, of course, is "What does 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son and he shall be called Emmanuel' have to do with 'Advent: the season of compassion'?". Why is it on the first Sunday of Lent we sing nothing but Ps. 91 (and in the case of the Offertory and Communion, even the same verses), when the readings change each year in the cycle?

    This is evidence to me that the texts of the chants are not intended to correspond to the readings, but that the chants themselves are an integral part of the rite. Further evidence is found in Willi Apel's book Gregorian Chant where he discusses the ascending order of psalms of the Introit, Offertory, and Communion in the weeks following Pentecost according to the traditional arrangement of the Graduale (see table, page 93).
    Of course, having said this, I have been considering a transition from the Ordinary Time entrance antiphons in BFW to a psalm-tone rendering of the Missal antiphons published in our OCP missal program, simply because they are in the pews already, and there is not an official translation of the Graduale antiphons. I still think this would be a step in the right direction, and compliant with the GIRM, however confusing the wording is. Would those who suggest the Missal antiphons were not intended to be sung (which I don't dispute) disagree?
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    Adam, you must have posted while I was writing my previous response. You're quite right that the clergy and the laity both seem to view the music as secondary to the other texts of the Mass, probably because they've experienced little else in the past 40 but music that IS secondary to the Mass. But I like to remind people that that there is musical notation for every part of the Mass (except the homily), and that some parts are so important that the most elaborate music is provided.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    dvalerio: "many countries; in mine (Portugal) ... musical settings ... found in the Portuguese version of the Roman Missal."

    We know about the GIRM adaptations for the USA because they are posted on the Vatican website,
    and it is easy to see the confused language and wide latitude of options.
    # 47-48 (Introit)
    # 61 (psalm)
    # 62-63-64 (gospel acclamation)
    # 74 (offertory)
    # 84-85-86-87-88 (communion)

    I have looked on the Vatican website for the GIRM in Portuguese, but cannot find it.
    In your country does the GIRM have Bishop Conference modifications for any of these?
    How was it decided to use the spoken texts for music?
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,574
    dvalerio, any info to share?