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Updated 13/2/2007


Chant Books for the Mass in Latin

The organisations which promote the use of traditional rites publish their own books; see, for example, St Bonaventure Publications , which supplies a reprint of the Liber Usualis, a book containing the chant for the most frequently used services, according to the traditional rite in use before Vatican II. However, this is one of the books which contains the now outmoded rhythmic markings of Dom Mocquereau. The official books of the catholic church for the new rites are the "Éditions de Solesmes". For prices and order information, see the Solesmes Web Site , or write to: Les Éditions de Solesmes, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, F-72300 SABLÉ-SUR-SARTHE, France. Tel.: (+33) 43.95.03.08 Facsimile: (+33) 43.95.68.79.


Chant Books for The Divine Office in Latin

The organisations which promote the use of traditional rites publish their own books; see, for example, St Bonaventure Publications , which supplies a reprint of the Liber Usualis, a book containing the chant for the most frequently used services, according to the traditional rite in use before Vatican II. However, this is one of the books which contains the now outmoded rhythmic markings of Dom Mocquereau. The Abbey of Solesmes has produced some music for the new Office, but there is as yet no complete set. For prices and order information, visit the Solesmes Web Site , or write to: Les Éditions de Solesmes, Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, F-72300 SABLÉ-SUR-SARTHE, France. Tel.: (+33) 43.95.03.08. Facsimile: (+33) 43.95.68.79.

The music for the chant of the Divine Office is complicated by the fact that monasteries and non-monastic churches have always used slightly different rites for the Divine Office. Moreover, before the Second Vatican Council, different textual and musical versions of the hymnal were used by monastic and non-monastic rites. The latter was further removed from the mediæval repertory than the former, the texts having been considerably re-edited in the seventeenth century. However, the Latin edition of the revised non-monastic Office of Vatican II, Liturgia Horarum, contains a new hymnal, reintroducing many ancient hymns, together with philologically restored texts for more well-known hymns. The Benedictine Congregation has taken the opportunity to adopt the same hymn-texts for the monastic rite, and the same musically restored version of the hymn-tunes has recently been introduced for use in both rites. The other musical differences (e.g. in the antiphon repertory) between the older monastic and non-monastic books are a different case. They do not reflect, as some believe, a deliberate musical distinction between the two rites, but merely the state of the Solesmes monks' musical research into the chant at the time of publication. The Antiphonale Monasticum reflects more recent research than the older Antiphonale Romanum and Liber Usualis for the non-monastic rite. However, the latest chant book for the Divine Office, the Liber Hymnarius, is a selection of material to be used in the post-Vatican II, revised form of both monastic and non-monastic rites, and therefore the musical version used in each rite is, for the first time in recent history, the same. Most of the books listed below are monastic:


Chant Books in English

1. Recent Books in Modern English

The American Gradual:  Chants of the Proper of the Mass Adapted to English Words, by Bruce E. Ford, 2 vols. (S. James Music Press, Hopkinsville, KY, 2001).  This book adapts the chants of the Graduale Romanum .  Its coverage is not complete, but includes the music for all occasions at which a choir is likely to be present.  Its primary target is the Episcopal (Anglican) Church in America, and therefore the English translation of the psalmody is taken from the official psalter used by American Anglicans.  As the author points out, however, the assignment of chants to liturgical occasions in the present edition of the Graduale Romanum has been adapted for the new three-year lectionary used in the Roman rite since the 1970s.  Many other denominations, including the churches of the Anglican Communion, now use a virtually identical lectionary, so that the assignment of chants in the new Graduale may be used in the worship of any denomination using this lectionary. The American Gradual gives alternative assignments of chants where there are differences between the Roman and Anglican lectionaries, so that the needs of both rites are covered.  This book is therefore suitable for use by Roman Catholic churches wishing to use the chants of the Graduale Romanum in English.

An introduction explains the thinking behind editorial decisions:  In the 20th century, chant books in Solesmes style with English texts were created for use in the Church of England; this book is intended to be a modernisation of the earlier work done by G. H. Palmer, Francis Burgess & al .  The need for adaptation of the melodies to suit the English text is stressed; some English versions of plainchant have failed "to adapt the chant at all".  It is accepted that even most professional singers cannot read Solesmes notation, and so the chant is presented in a modern notation accompanied by various diacritical marks representing  neumatic separations and some episemata.  The intention behind this is that singers, rather than following the Mocquereau rhythmic system of the older Solesmes editions, will attempt the even older "accentualist" system of Pothier, modified by the more recent semiological insights of Cardine.  Here the edition differs from the more recent Solesmes books, which have tried to represent every rhythmic nuance of the early notation.  The opinion of Dom. Jean Claire and Cardine is quoted, that the attempt to reproduce them all in performance "invariably robbed the chant of fluency".  As someone accustomed to attempting their performance every Sunday, I would not wholly agree with this, and sometimes find that both the lack of some of rhythmic indications and the presence of others does not always quite feel "natural".  However, this is a small quibble, since what is presented is a far truer reflection of the rhythmic nuances of the earliest manuscripts than is the official Graduale Romanum.  The adaptation of the chant melodies to the English text is admirable, and I hope that it will be much used.  The address of the St. James Music Press is:  4996, River Bend Road, Hopkinsville, Kentucky 42240 USA.  The book may seem expensively priced at $99, but it is not:  the price includes copyright permission for purchasers to make photocopies (for use exclusively in their own church).

By Flowing Waters:  Chant for the Liturgy:  A Collection of Unaccompanied Song for Assemblies, Cantors, and Choirs , by Paul F. Ford (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1999).  ISBN 0-8146-2595-9.  A version in American English of the Graduale Simplex (see above, under "Chant Books for the Mass in Latin").  It contains English versions of all the material in the Graduale Simplex , together with Latin and English versions of the material from Jubilate Deo (see above, under "Chant Books for the Mass in Latin").  The music is presented in modern five-line staff notation.  The Latin Graduale Simplex has official status in the Catholic church as a set of texts and music alternative to those of the traditional Graduale Romanum , and also alternative to the texts given in the new Missal and Lectionary.  This English version does not have any official status, but this should not hinder its use, because of the many rubrics allowing "another suitable song".  The music is drawn from the Divine Office, and from ancient responsorial forms of singing, and is therefore simpler than that of the traditional Graduale Romanum.  Since it has been used for thirty years with the three year cycle of the new Roman Lectionary, it could be used in the same way in any denomination that has adopted a similar lectionary, such as The Revised Common Lectionary used in the Church of England.

Night Prayer (Compline) according to the Order in COMMON WORSHIP, with permitted seasonal variations from the Franciscan Office, set to plainsong and other related simple chant, by Peter Wilton (The Gregorian Association, 2001).  For further details, follow this link.

The PMMS had intended to publish a modern English version of The Ordinary of the Mass, with ICET texts. This was passed over to the Community of the Resurrection and Harper-Collins-Religious publishers (Community of the Resurrection, Mirfield, West Yorkshire, WF14 0BN, or Harper-Collins, 77-85 Fulham Palace Road, London W6 8JB), and was eventually published as An English Kyriale: Music for the Eucharist, edited by Peter Allan CR, Mary Berry, Pamela CSJB, and by two former Directors of Music of the Gregorian Association, David Hiley and Ernest Warrell.  This book is in square notation on a four line staff.  I believe it to be out of print.


2. Older Books in English (Traditional Language)

Before it left Addington Palace, the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) took over the catalogue of the former Plainchant Publications Committee. This catalogue was created by Francis Burgess, former Director of Music of the Gregorian Association. Since the move from Addington, the on-line RSCM music catalogue has ceased to list the plainchant publications previously listed on their old web site.  It transpired that Eric Fletcher (Worldwide Music Service, PO Box 161323 Altamonte Springs, FL 32716-1323, USA) bought the remaining stocks from Addington. He has said to me that he no longer has stocks, and that the RSCM hasn’t responded to requests about reproduction of the catalogue.

FORMER RSCM LITURGY AND PLAINCHANT CATALOGUE (Please contact Eric Fletcher, details above)

RP33:  Anthems of Blessed Virgin Mary (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP43:  Asperges and Mass Responses (Plainsong)
RP8:  Communions for the liturgical year (Plainsong Sentences)
RP5:  English Gradual: Propers (Plainsong; NOT the proper music; simple psalm tones only!)
RP6:  English Gradual: Propers - Supp. (Plainsong; NOT the proper music; simple psalm tones only!)
RP3 I:  English Benediction manual (10 settings with accompaniment)
RP4:  English Gradual: Ordinary (Plainsong)
RP3:  Exultet jam Angelica (Plainsong original notation)
RPI9:  Good Friday Tenebrae (Plainsong)
RP20:  Holy Saturday Tenebrae (Plainsong)
RP48:  Intonations during and after Mass (Plainsong)
RPIS:  Mass Prefaces  (Sarum Chant/BCP text plainsong)
RPIL:  Mass Prefaces  (Latin Chant/BCP text Plainsong)
RP32:  Mass  & Office Responses (Plainsong)
RP16:  Maundy Thursday Tenebrae (Plainsong)
RP42:  Missa pro defunctis (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP20:  On Holy Saturday (Plainsong part accompanied)
RP14:  On Palm Sunday: complete Passion (Matthew) with Victoria choruses
RP15:  On Maundy Thursday (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP19:  On Good Friday: complete Passion (John) Plainsong with Victoria choruses
RP18:  On Good Friday: Rite and shorter Passion Plainsong with Victoria choruses
RP12:  On Candlemas/Ash Wednesday Plainsong  with accompaniment)
RP7:  Organ harmonies (For use with  English Gradual)
RP13:  Palm Sunday: Rite and shorter Passion (Plainsong)
RP47:  Polyphonic Requiem (Casciolini, Viadana et al.)
RP45:  Proper for Christ the King (Plainsong)
RP34:  Reception of a Bishop (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP23:  Simple Plainsong Antiphoner (Plainsong)
RP39:  Sunday Compline (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP37:  Vespers of Dead, large edition (Plainsong with accompaniment)
RP38:  Vespers of Dead, small edition (Plainsong original notation)
RP36:  Vespers of Blessed Virgin Mary (Plainsong original notation)
RP35:  Vespers of Blessed Sacrament (Plainsong original notation)

Francis Burgess (former Director of Music of the Association) produced The Plainchant Gradual, which was the propers of the mass in traditional language set to psalm tones, in modern notation.  A version of this in traditional notation is available on-line from Project Canterbury , a collection of Anglo-Catholic resources assembled under the leadership of someone at Columbia University, New York (who wishes to remain anonymous).

Originally produced by Thomas Helmore, the conductor in the 1870s of the London Gregorian Choral Association in S. Paul's Cathedral, A Manual of Plainsong (now out of print?) contains the psalmody and other music for Anglican Mattins and Evensong. It has since been revised. More recent editions were edited by H. B. Briggs and W. H. Frere, and published by Novello. A version using the text of The Revised Psalter was also produced.

The Plainsong and Mediæval Music Society (PMMS) published several books of chant in English. The most well-known are:

Current addresses for the PMMS are:  Chairman:  Prof. John Harper, RSCM, 19, The Close, Salisbury, Wilts. SP1 2EB

S. Mary's Press, S. Mary's Convent, Wantage, Oxon, UK, published many books and pamphlets of chant in English, including The Plainchant Gradual , an English version in two volumes of all the Mass Propers with their proper music (now out-of-print), combining the work of Francis Burgess for the Plainchant Publications Committee with that of G. H. Palmer. Some of the S. Mary's catalogue (which may be obtained from the Convent) is still available. At my last visit to Addington Palace before the removal of the RSCM, the publications department had a copy of the current Wantage Catalogue. Any enquiries to Wantage, please send me an email and I’ll forward it to S. Mary’s Press.

Many hymn-books contain a good selection of chants, the best current example being The New English Hymnal.