Does your parish use (or look to use) plainsong?
  • There are many new (and not-so-new) resources out there that are opportunities to move away from the dreaded "hymn sandwich" to actually using the prescribed propers for the day. The new Simple English Propers, Richard Rice's Entrance Antiphons, the Graduale Simplex, By Flowing Waters, etc. offer great ways to move toward a more full embrace of the texts of the propers of the Mass.

    I am very excited about all these options and their growing popularity. However, I would hate for us to lose sight of what should be our goal; that being the singing of the propers from the Graduale Romanum. The GR is the official music of the Church and is the most suitable music to the Roman Rite, so I would assume that those of us who wish to support the musical patrimony of the Church are always working and hoping for making the GR the primary source of music for the Mass

    That got me thinking...How many parishes out there ACTUALLY sing the propers from the Graduale? Also, how many parishes aspire to using the GR, but are starting with another source, such as one or more of the ones that I listed....and how many of us attend or direct at parishes who simply have no desire to move from using hymns.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,727
    I go both ways on that. I like good hymns, especially if they are Anglican. The pastor would never let me replace the entrance hymn with a proper, to begin with. I have used them, but as preludes. I use a communion proper every Sunday. I don't do Latin chant all the time, since we have an EF mass for those who want Latin. My goal has never been to recreate the 1962 missal. As I said, we already offer that for the interested. Love Richard Rice! I bought some Advent introits that he wrote and used them as preludes all through Advent. My choir likes his communion propers and we use his works probably more than anyone else's.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I'm a "schola of one" at our OF Mass. As I've mentioned many times on various occasions on these boards, I sing the Gregorian Introit as a prelude, plus the Gregorian Offertory (usually, that is — this last week I actually sang from the SEP), and the Gregorian Communion chant (with English verses, à la Richard Rice) — all with a colleague playing NOH accompaniments on the organ.

    One of the things on the distant horizon at my parish is the possibility of replacing the Responsorial Psalm with the Gradual… either the Gregorian original, or more likely an English adaptation such as those by Bruce Ford in his "American Gradual."

    I'm thinking of starting another thread to discuss that more, actually. I just feel that the more I read and learn about all of this, the more the Responsorial Psalm just seems so out-of-place.

    With the current success of the SEP, I'm wondering if people are feeling similarly regarding the Introit, Offertory, and Communion chants — that is, if they're suddenly feeling "wow, hymns seem so out-of-place now, compared to the propers." If so, then perhaps the next logical step is a more concerted effort to restore the Gradual and Alleluia chants. (I am, of course, still extremely appreciative of the resources CCW has made available for higher-quality Responsorial Psalms and Gospel Acclamations… I sing them every week.)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,727
    I have had questions about the Gradual for some time. Is it like the sequences removed from the liturgy at Trent? It seems to me that the responsorial psalm has replaced the Gradual, and the powers that be meant it that way. I dont' see how we can put it back just because we happen to like it. The OF does have rules governing it. I don't get that we are allowed to rewrite those rules and remix the liturgy to suit ourselves.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    CW I'm with you on the Responsorial Psalm. It's part of the Lectionary now, and is part of an integrated whole with the OT and the Gospel.

    That doesn't mean it needs to be sung in a badly paraphrased pop setting with an arm-flapping cantor, though.
  • jhoffman
    Posts: 29
    Right now our parish choir. schola and ensembles sing an introit and communion antiphon. The introit is sung after the organ (or piano prelude at ensemble masses) and after the opening announcements. (We always have opening announcements for the sake of the large amount of visitors who attend each week. And yes, we do all those things such as name the resources we will be using, including the worship aid, to move into the center of the pew to allow late comers to be seated and of course the silencing of electronic devices. It all helps for a peaceful mass!) It is followed by a strophic hymn or a contemporary selection from RitualSong hymnal. The communion antiphon is always sung at all masses after the priests consumes the Body and Blood of Christ. (Yes, these are even sung at so called "Contemporary masses. They usually sing them to a psalm tone setting or sometimes the text is set to setting composed by their director. It works quite well.)

    Beginning on August 15, we will begin using a system to help delineate the feasts and season. This will be especially true for the choral mass. The introit and communion antiphon will be used as follows:
    For Solemnities, Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter Seasons: from the GREGORIAN MISSAL or a Motet setting of the prescribed text.
    For Sundays in ordinary time: Rice's settings or or SEP
    For weekday masses: Psalm tone setting of the texts. (The organ and a cantor is employed for masses during the week when there is a ("major"*)feast or a solemnity celebrated at our evening mass.)

    *We usually limit this to one or two a week ( i.e. apostles, well-know saints) and choose the feasts that have a particular connection to ministries in the parish (St. Vincent dePaul, St. Martha, St. Augustine of Canterbury, etc.)
  • Charles, I disagree with the premise that plainsong propers from the Graduale constitute a recreation of the 1962 Missal. If the plainsong propers weren't meant to used in the 1970 (or 1975, or 2003...however you want to render it) Missal, than the Graduale Romanum and Gregorian Missal would never have been revised to provide the propers for the 1970 Missal. As for the psalm, here's what the IGMR says:


    "In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm."

    The psalm or "Gradual" from the Roman Gradual (Graduale Romanum) is given as the first choice, the "responsorial psalm" is given as the second choice. The Gradual was not removed by the Council or the Consilium. It simply fell out of use, despite the instructions of the Missals and from the Holy See making it the first choice. We shouldn't put it back just because "we like it", we should put it back because, "All other things being equal, Gregorian chant holds pride of place because it is proper to the Roman Liturgy." (IGRM #41)
  • CW,

    Would the Gradual be considered a "seasonal psalm" that could be used as a responsorial psalm?

    This is from our current GIRM:

    In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the
    Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm
    from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another
    musical setting; or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons,
    including psalms arranged in metrical form,


    This reminds me of a workshop I attended given by Scott Turkington. I remember him saying that the current form of Responsorial Psalm where the text is broken up into smaller passages was something that had never been done before. People's familiarity with this form after using it for 40+ years makes the Gradual seem alien to the weekly mass goers in the pews.

    BTW, on the topic of this thread... In my parish we have some GIA and OCP. The psalms are rarely the ones in the missal. They are usually one of three or four seasonal psalms that have been learned for the the season, and repeated throughout. When we go to the new translation, it'll be 100% OCP (missalette).

    These kinds of threads are kind of love/hate for me. I love to see these changes and (re)discoveries present in our church, and I get frustrated about how to broach the topic at my parish.

    -Mark
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    Ah, so according to the GIRM, doing the Gradual instead of the Lectionary's appointed Psalm would constitute a replacement.
    Licit, but a lower choice on the hierarchy of options (which, as we know, are ALWAYS placed in order of preference. Therefore, you can do it, but you shouldn't do it because it isn't the real desire of the Church.

    I feel like I've heard this somewhere else.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    Also,the more I look at this, the more I'm thinking that:
    either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting

    might mean:
    you could do the Psalm appointed in the Lectionary, to the musical setting of it found in the Graduale (even though that particular setting would be from a different day according to the Gradual cycle)


    That is, if the Lectionary has Psalm 23 on a particular Sunday, you could do the Gradual where the Psalm is 23, even though that will likely not be the same Sunday as when the Psalm appeared in the Graduale originally.

    Perhaps the writers of the GIRM envisioned an eventual reordering of the Graduals to align with the appointed Psalms in the Lectionary.
  • It is permitted for the antiphon to be sung before the verses and after all the verses has been sung.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    The GIRM text is admittedly a bit befuddling on this matter. If one were to sing the Gradual, I'm pretty sure that you'd choose the one proper to the day as indicated in the Graduale Romanum.

    Furthermore — yes, the GIRM as well as "Sing to the Lord" indicates the Responsorial Psalm as the preference. However, I believe that Musicam Sacram does not make that distinction, and I believe I've heard/read Dr. Mahrt say that MS is "more authoritative" than either the GIRM or SttL. Now, I'm not looking to cite interdocument warfare here, but I'd think that given all of these documents together, AND considering the historical precedent for the very existence of the Gradual, one could very prudently choose the Gradual.

    The Mahrt piece was a fairly recent one… it may have even been a comment on a thread here. When I can, I'll try to find it. In the meantime, either of these might be of interest:

    * "Graduale or Missale" by Christopher Tietze — to me, required reading on understanding the discrepancy here (in the Winter 2006 issue of Sacred Music)
    * "The Musical Shape of the Liturgy, Part III: The Service of the Readings" by William Mahrt (in the Summer 1976 issue of Sacred Music, and as with all of Mahrt's writings, some real gems are to be found in the footnotes!)
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Found it… it was actually in a footnote from "Active Participation and Listening to Gregorian Chant," in the Spring 2011 issue of Sacred Music. In this case, it was actually in reference to the Gregorian Alleluia. Here it is (broken into three paragraphs for clarity), emphasis mine:
    There are some contradictions between the general principle that, on one hand, Gregorian chant has first place, and on the other hand, the rubric in the GIRM prescribes that the alleluia "is sung by all while standing (¶62)." This rubric is evidently aimed at a rather simple, non-Gregorian antiphon (like the little three-fold alleluia from Holy Saturday) and a short verse, which is the usual practice in the parishes. The congregation is not capable of singing the entire Gregorian alleluia, yet these melodies are the summit of that art and reflect their own exquisite liturgical function; to rule them out absolutely would be a contradiction of Sacrosanctum concilium, which is a more authoritative document than the GIRM. Moreover, the Gregorian alleluias appear in the Gregorian Missal (1990 and still in print), which is a book prepared for parish choirs.

    The liturgical function of the Gregorian alleluia is more complex than the GIRM prescribes (the congregation welcomes the Lord in the gospel and expresses their faith); it is at once a meditation chant which reflects on the reading just heard and an anticipation of the singing of the gospel. Likewise the duration of the alleluia is considerably longer than a simple gospel procession takes (except at Westminster Cathedral, where at the Pope's Mass the entire Gregorian alleluia was sung, and it lasted exactly the same time as the procession, which went about a third of the distance from the nave to the great pulpit); if people stand at the beginning of the singing of a Gregorian alleluia, they are left standing for quite a while, apparently for no purpose. If the alleluia is a meditation chant reflecting on the previous lesson, then it is more appropriate for them to remain seated.

    In my own practice, the gospel procession begins toward the end of the alleluia verse, and the people stand approximately at the repeat of the alleluia. This fulfills the status of the Gregorian alleluia as one of the highest of the Gregorian forms, but it is in technical violation of the GIRM, since the congregation does not sing any of it. I have proposed a solution for those who wish to observe the GIRM strictly, that the congregation sing the repeat of the intonation of the Gregorian alleluia, after which the choir sings the jubilus. Congregations are able to repeat most Gregorian alleluia intonations without difficulty, and in doing so, they sing almost as much music as the little antiphon seen above [i.e., the Holy Saturday "triple" alleluia], and they listen to quite a bit more.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    The GIRM text is admittedly a bit befuddling on this matter.

    Well, I'm not sure that that's actually true.

    >>In the dioceses of the United States of America, the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass:

    so, anything that follows that instruction is a replacement, not a normative choice...

    Option 1 for replacement (everything up to the semi-colon):
    >> either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting;

    the actual option here (before the comma) is "proper of seasonal antiphon and Psalm FROM THE LECTIONARY"
    the second clause (after the comma) modifies that option, stating that it can be sung, "as found either in the Roman Gradual or Simple Gradual or in another musical setting"
    the antecedant to "another musical setting" (that is, the thing that this is other than) is the musical setting in the Graduale or the Simplex, not the text choice as arranged in the current Graduale's cycle.


    Option 2 for replacement is:
    >>or an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the psalms and antiphons, including psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

    This last bit pretty much gives you free reign to do anything it seems (subject to Bishop approval) provided that it is at least a Psalm with an Antiphon. Arranged in metrical form might mean a paraphrased, strophic setting of a Psalm text (as is apparently common in Germany for example), but the last bit about "songs and hymns" would make me a little weary of that.


    The fact that other Psalms (besides the Lectionary text) are allowed here, so the GR and GS are clearly permitted. But tt seems to me that the GIRM also clearly states that the Lectionary text is the normative choice.


    It seems really disingenuous of traditionalists to pick and choose when the GIRM, or it's apparent hierarchy of preferences among options, is authoritative or not.
    If the Introit is clearly more desirable that another suitable SONG, because it's option 1 instead of Option 4, then it seems clear that (all other things being equal) the Lectionary's Psalm is more desirable than the Graduale's Psalm.

    And if "traditional practice" is used as a justification for picking one option over another, I would remind everyone that Processional Hymns sing by the people are also a traditional practice (whether you like it or not).
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,727
    aquinasadmirer, I don't know the answer to that. It is a real problem that Rome has produced documents, then turned over the revision and interpretation of those documents to the conference of bishops. In some cases, Rome seems to have given nearly all liturgical authority to the episcopal conferences. It's no wonder documents don't agree, and those on both liberal and conservative sides, interpret them to suit their own agendas. I would agree that MS was binding in its day, but the episcopal conference now has the authority to make regulations, and has done so.

    My choir sings the psalm of the day on Sundays, and the psalm of the day is read on weekdays. I don't use seasonal psalms.
  • That means, for the first time perhaps ever, the prescribed chants for the Mass are not the first choice for the Mass, but rather a text that has no official musical setting.

    There's a fundamental disconnect here.
  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,282
    But I don't think you can just wish away that that is what the document says, and (as I said above) I don't think it's right to be biased and selective about how to read this.

    I would further say, though, that same spirit of pastoral sensitivity and deference to custom which allows for Processional Hymns instead of Introits can be reasonably invoked on behalf of those communities which find it more apt to use the Graduale's Gradual Psalm. I would suggest even further, though, that using the Graduale setting of the the Lectionary Psalm might be the highest good from the standpoint of following rules while honoring tradition. That practice, though, seems highly unlikely.
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    Adam W., I sense that you're inciting the very documental infighting that I wanted to avoid (unsuccessfully, it seems).

    This warrants discussion of really what is meant by "ceteris paribus" ("all things being equal") and "pastoral judgment" and what is considered to be "ideal." I recall yet another great blog post about this, outside of the Café, but I don't have time to find it right now. It was something about why matters such as these aren't legislated -- the writer drew an analogy to the Beatitudes.
  • But can we really simply leave things up to the community? That's how we ended up with bongos and guitars at Mass. I think this begs the question of WHY processional hymns are more acceptable to some communities. I understand that a small country church that barely is able to find an organist and ANYONE who can sing might find it quite difficult to sing even the simplest plainsong. Hymns seem reasonable in this situation. However, I have a hard time believing a large Cathedral couldn't implement plainsong as a standard. Certainly, this could take time for education, and perhaps it couldn't be done in a fell swoop, but little by little, but I have a hard time honoring the 100 year tradition of a parish singing hymns and ignoring the Church's 1000 year tradition of singing plainsong.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,529
    That passage of the 2003 US GIRM really is a muddle; it seems to proceed from the erroneous concept that the lectionary psalm and antiphon can be found in the Roman Gradual or the Simple Gradual. Perhaps it was prepared by people who didn't know what is in either book. No matter: that version is to be superceded in Advent.
  • jpal
    Posts: 365
    Getting back to the original question...

    We are currently Simplex-based. At one Mass, we take the Introit, Offertory, and Communion antiphon directly from the GS (with a strong bias toward the Mozarabic Psalm 34 at Communion). At the other Masses, we do English settings of the same, using the Revised Grail psalms and my own settings of the translated antiphons (which are not simplified ala BFW). The goal, ultimately, is to graduate to GR/SEP. The responsorial psalm is chanted straight through (a legitimate option in the GIRM) to a very simple psalm tone: the choir or a cantor (by which I mean, a singer in the choir) sings one verse, the congregation sings the next, and we alternate like that all the way through. We do the Gospel acclamation the same way it's done most places, with a simple chanted alleluia refrain and the verse set to a psalm tone. At the recessional, we sing the seasonal Marian antiphon.

    This is a parish that had a 30+ year diet of Glory & Praise until a year ago, and we are doing a clean sweep. The ordinary parts are currently spoken, because it wasn't worth teaching good music settings of them on the eve of the new translation. When we can, we'll start singing the settings that are in the Missal.

    So it's a lot of chant. Some people are discovering and loving it, and others hate it, but either way, the people are (slowly) finding their voice (especially since nothing is accompanied). I wouldn't say that we are going to be 100% chant at every Mass all the time, but going this direction gives us a firm foundation. Some people are realizing for the first time the unity of the Mass from start to finish, and that's really what we are trying to convey. I approach the subject of traditional hymnody at Mass with some trepidation, because once the "oneness" of the Mass is realized, even these pieces, as worthy as they may be textually or musically, can be incongruous and jarring, creating an artificial "high point" and throwing off the balance of the Mass.

    We're trying to educate as much as possible; for instance, we have regular bulletin messages, and we're currently presenting two (completely free) seminars on sacred music: one seminar on the history and theology of Roman Catholic sacred music, and the other seminar is practical -- learning to sing, read neumes and modern notes, etc. It's a bumpy roller coaster, and we're not always perfect about communicating well to the parish, so I cannot tell for sure what the prognosis is.

    I would love to hear from others that are similarly trying to do a complete 180 in their parish!

    Jon Laird