Feb 15, 2015

What Must be Sung is the Mass

Online Edition
February 2015
Vol. XX, No. 8

What Must be Sung is the Mass
Resources for Singing the Proper of the Mass


by Susan Benofy

In 1969 the Consilium (a group of bishops and experts set up by Pope Paul VI to recommend details of the liturgical reform) responded to a question about the continuing applicability of the 1958 permission to sing popular religious songs during a low (read) Mass:

What must be sung is the Mass, its Ordinary and Proper, not ‘something,’ no matter how consistent, that is imposed on the Mass….  To continue to replace the texts of the Mass being celebrated with motets that are reverent and devout, yet out of keeping with the Mass of the day amounts to continuing an unacceptable ambiguity: it is to cheat the people…. Thus texts must be those of the Mass, not others, and singing means singing the Mass not just singing during Mass. (Notitiae 5 [1969] p. 406, original emphasis; English translation DOL 4154, p. 1299).

In the following decades the vast majority of parishes often sang at least some of the Ordinary (unchanging) parts (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) of the Mass. However, most of these parishes continued to sing “something” in place of the Proper texts intended to be sung, especially the Entrance, Offertory, and Communion antiphons, which vary with particular day.  This practice has been so pervasive that many Catholics are unfamiliar with the term “Proper” of the Mass, and certainly have no idea what texts are being replaced or where such texts can be found.

For decades there were virtually no musical settings for the Propers in English.  And some of the Proper texts still have no officially approved English translation. In the last few years, however, there has been increasing interest in setting the Proper texts to music. Originally much of this work was available primarily on websites. More recently printed collections of such music have become available. And especially since the publication of the new translation of the Mass, permanent Missals for the people are appearing that make translations of the Proper texts available.

Unfortunately this work is not as widely known as it should be, because it does not generally appear in the catalogs of the large music publishers. In the hope of increasing awareness of this valuable new work we present a survey of the online and printed sources that make the Proper texts and musical settings of them available for use in parishes.

Sources of Proper Texts

The Proper texts are found in official liturgical books. Before the Council, the Proper texts were included in the Missal along with the Mass texts and the scripture readings. But when the rite was reformed the texts of the Mass were distributed among several separate liturgical books, and some new Proper texts appeared. The books that contain Proper texts now include:

1. Graduale Romanum This is an official liturgical book, technically part of the Missale Romanum. It contains texts and music for the Proper and Ordinary of the Mass and some other material. For the Proper of the Mass it contains the processionals (Entrance, Offertory, and Communion) and the chants between the readings in the form of a Gradual and an Alleluia (or Tract that replaces the Alleluia during Lent).

The texts and music are mostly ancient, the same text and music having been associated with some feasts for more than a millennium. The latest version, revised to correspond to the 1970 Rite of Mass and liturgical calendar, was published in 1974.

The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has never produced an official English translation.

2. Lectionary This book contains the readings for Mass and the texts of the chants  between the readings in the form of a Responsorial Psalm and an Alleluia verse. The Alleluia is replaced by another acclamation during Lent.  These texts are new in the reformed rite of Mass. There are no official musical settings. They are mostly drawn from Scripture, most frequently from the psalms. The official English translation varies from country to country. In the US a version of the New American Bible is used in the Lectionary, but on November 11, 2008, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the Conception Abbey Revised Grail Psalms for use in future editions of US liturgical books, including the Lectionary.

3. Roman Missal This book (formerly called “Sacramentary” by ICEL) contains the prayers that the priest, deacon, and congregation say at Mass, including a set of Entrance and Communion antiphons.  (The Missal does not include Offertory antiphons, nor any texts for chants between the readings.) Like the Responsorial Psalms in the Lectionary these antiphon texts were new in the 1970 Missal. They were the work of a committee concerned with spoken Masses, who believed the antiphons had to be revised to be appropriate for recitation. Thus some of the antiphons were shortened or replaced with other texts. Many, however, retained the text for the day from the Graduale Romanum. Their current official translation is the 2010 ICEL translation for the Roman Missal, 3rd edition. The texts are mainly drawn from Scripture.

4. Graduale Simplex This liturgical book was compiled in response to the request of  the Second Vatican Council in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) §117 for an edition of the Propers containing simpler melodies for use in small churches. It gives a few sets of chants meant to be used repeatedly during  each season. The texts do not usually correspond to those in the Graduale Romanum. For the processionals different texts with existing simple musical settings were chosen, usually from the Divine Office. For the chants between the readings, new forms were introduced as well. The Gradual was replaced by the Responsorial Psalm, and a short Lenten Gospel acclamation was substituted for the lengthy Tract. Most of the work in composing music for antiphons currently concentrates on providing melodies (some simple, others more complex) for the antiphons proper to individual days, rather then the seasonal ones.

In addition, the Proper texts and music settings can be found in the Gregorian Missal. This is not an official liturgical book, but essentially a Latin/English hand Missal for Sundays and major feasts, published by the Abbey of Solesmes. Unlike most hand Missals, however, it includes the Latin texts and musical settings for the Propers from the Graduale Romanum, instead of the Entrance and Communion antiphons from the Roman Missal. Since there is no official English translation for the Graduale Romanum, one was supplied by Solesmes, although it bore a notice that it is to aid in understanding the Latin text and not for liturgical use. Musical settings are for the Latin text only.

Recent Musical Settings of the Propers

Recently there has been interest among Catholic composers in writing music for the Propers. Though there were some earlier collections we will concentrate here mainly on collections that employ the recently approved translations of the Missal Antiphons and Psalter, or the antiphons of the Graduale Romanum.  Because there is no official approved translation of the latter, settings of these texts still use a variety of translations.

Collections of Chants Between the Readings

1) Corpus Christi Watershed — Jeff Ostrowski, President
Chabanel Psalms – ccwatershed.org/chabanel
Garnier Gospel Alleluia Verses – ccwatershed.org/garnier

Settings of the Responsorial Psalm (Chabanel) and Alleluia (Garnier) for Sundays and feasts of the liturgical year. Often versions by several different composers are offered for a particular day. They are set in chant style, sometimes harmonized, and/or with organ accompaniment. They use the Lectionary (NAB) text for the Antiphon, psalm, and Alleluia verse. Individual selections can be downloaded from the websites at no charge. The entire collection of Chabanel Psalms is also available in book form.

2) The Parish Book of Psalms — Arlene Oost-Zinner
musicasacra.com/2012/09/04/announc ing-the-parish-book-of-psalms 
Arlene Oost-Zinner contributes responsorial psalm settings to the Chabanel collection and also has her own collection of Psalms for Sundays and feasts of the Church using the texts from the current Lectionary. A preview and ordering information can be found at the above web address.

Collections of Processional Chants

3) Simple English Propers — Adam Bartlett
This is a collection of settings of the Introit, Offertory, and Communion from the Graduale Romanum for Sundays and feasts of the liturgical year. The melodies employ the Gregorian modes, preserving the mode in which the Latin chants of the Graduale Romanum are composed.

The translation used is that in the Gregorian Missal for the antiphons, and the Conception Abbey Revised Grail Psalter for the psalm verses.

Information for ordering a printed version or downloading an electronic copy are given at the above web address.  Practice files for learning the chants are found there as well.

It should be noted that this collection was composed several years ago, before the 2010 Roman Missal translation was available. In his more recent work (see Lumen Christi Missal, on this page) Bartlett has preferred to use the 2010 Missal antiphon texts wherever possible.

4) “Proper” of the Mass — Father Samuel Weber, OSB
Ignatius Press (forthcoming)
This collection is offered under the auspices of the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in San Francisco, of which Father Weber is the founding director.  It includes Entrance, Offertory, and Communion antiphons for Sundays and Solemnities.

For the Entrance and Communion antiphons the texts are from the Roman Missal in the 2010 English translation.  The Offertory antiphons are from the Graduale Romanum in translations said to be generally by the “editor of the texts.”

In order to be useful in a number of different pastoral situations each proper antiphon text is provided with four (or occasionally, three) musical settings.  The first is the most elaborate and the second somewhat less so. Psalm verses supplied for these are set to Latin psalm tones. Psalm translations, by the editor, are based on the Vulgate, and designed to adapt the English words to fit the Latin psalm tone.

The two simpler settings are based on psalm tones, a Latin tone and then an English one. Psalm verses supplied for these versions are set to English psalm tones, and texts are taken from the Conception Abbey Grail Psalter.

Both Processionals and Chant Between the Readings

5. Lalemant Propers — Jeff Ostrowski
These are simple settings, based on a psalm tone, of the texts from the Graduale Romanum (including the Gradual, Alleluia, and Tract).
Antiphons are in the version in the Gregorian Missal, Psalm verses use the Conception Abbey revision of the Grail Psalms.

6.    Ignatius Pew Missal — Lighthouse Catholic Media
This is an annual subscription-based pew Missal, containing the order of Mass, readings for Sundays and Solem- nities, and references for the weekday readings. Texts and musical settings of the Entrance and Communion antiphons, the Responsorial Psalm, and the Alleluia are included. Texts for the Entrance and Communion antiphons are taken from the Missal, and texts for the Responsorial Psalm and Alleluia are from the Lectionary. Musical settings by Father Samuel Weber, OSB, are simple chant melodies intended for singing by cantor, choir, and assembly. Settings for the Ordinary of the Mass and a substantial selection of mostly traditional hymns are included.

The edition for the 2015 liturgical year can be ordered at the above website.

7.   St. Isaac Jogues Illuminated Missal, Lectionary, and Gradual
This book is copyright 2014 and published by the Pope John Paul II Institute for Liturgical Renewal in Owasso, Oklahoma.
Information at ccwatershed.org/jogues/

The Missal contains:

-The Ordinary of the Mass in English and Latin set in parallel columns. This section also contains a large number of full-color illustrations: reproductions of ancient manuscripts of the text and music of the Mass, sacred art, and photographs of various moments in the Mass.
-Readings from the Lectionary for years A, B, and C are included (in English).
-Texts of the processional chants (Introit, Offertory, and Communion) from the Graduale Romanum in both Latin and English. The English text is taken from the Gregorian Missal translation.
-Texts of the chants between the readings are given in both the older and newer forms. The Gradual and Alleluia (or Tract) are given in both Latin and English (Gregorian Missal translation).  In addition the Responsorial Psalm (with musical notation for the people’s response) and Alleluia or alternate acclamation used in Lent from the US Lectionary are given in English. Musical settings and organ accompaniment for the Responsorial Psalms and Gospel acclamations can be downloaded or ordered at the above website.
-Sequences for Easter, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi are given with the Propers for the day in an English metric text with musical setting. The Latin and a literal trans- lation are given in an Appendix. Musical notation for the Latin text of the Pange Lingua is given in the Holy Thursday section.
-Finally, the text of Benediction for the Blessed Sacrament is included with musical notation for the O Salutaris and the Tantum Ergo.  A musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass is given.

According to the Jogues web page a Daily Mass Companion is available and a separate hymnal is planned.

8.    Lumen Christi Missalm—Adam Bartlett
Overview of Lumen Christi Missal:
Complete Lumen Christi Missal
illuminarepublications.com/products/lcm (click on “Full Preview”)

This Missal contains:
-The text of the Ordinary of the Mass, with notation for the short responses and several musical settings of the Ordinary in both Latin and English.
-The Missal settings of sequences and hymns, etc. prescribed for particular liturgies, such as those of  Holy Week.
-The readings for Sundays for years A, B, and C.
-Responsorial Psalms for all days and Alleluia verses (or the alternates used during Lent) include both text and musical settings of the antiphons. For the verses the Revised Grail Psalter is used.
-Processional chants for Sundays with simple settings: Entrance and Communion antiphons from both the Missal and the Graduale Romanum and also the Offertory from the Graduale Romanum.
-Entrance and Communion anti-phons from the Missal for weekdays and saints’ days pointed to be sung to psalm tones.

The translations of the antiphons from the Graduale Romanum in this Missal differ from those in Bartlett’s earlier Simple English Propers. The translation from the Gregorian Missal is not used here. Instead when the text from the Graduale Romanum matches that in the Missale Romanum the ICEL translation from the 2010 Missal is used. For the texts that do not match, a new translation was made using the principles of Liturgiam authenticam.

9.    Lumen Christi Gradual —Adam Bartlett
The second in this series is the Lumen Christi Gradual.

This contains certain sections of the Lumen Christi Missal, primarily those with musical notation.  The “Proper of Time” and “Proper of Saints” sections with the readings, Responsorial Psalms, and Gospel acclamations have been removed. Other than that the contents seem to be the same as the Lumen Christi Missal with the same texts and translations.

The third book in the series is the Lumen Christi Hymnal.

This contains 170 classic hymns with familiar, standard tunes and harmonizations, in addition to the complete repertoire of authentic chant hymns from the Liturgy of the Hours (for Lauds, Vespers, and Compline) in English translation, set to chant hymn tunes from the Liber Hymnarius.


Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy


Susan Benofy

Susan Benofy received her doctorate in physics from Saint Louis University. She was formerly Research Editor of Adoremus Bulletin.