Wednesday, December 13, 2006

use of gradual chant in place of responsorial psalm?

I would be curious what folks (esp. Jeffrey?) think of the idea of singing the gradual chant after the first reading instead of the responsorial psalm, and the Gregorian Alleluia/Tract in place of the Lectionary text for the acclamation before the Gospel.

The advantage I see to use of the proper for the processionals is served by the responsorial psalm. In fact, it is theoretically served better, since the resp. psalms are matched to the other parts of the Liturgy of the Word in the three-year cycle.

There is, however, another angle - the graduals are generally considered separate readings in and of themselves, not necessarily tied to the other readings. In other words, the graduals are not supposed to connect with the other readings, in the same sense as the 2nd reading generally is not coordinated to the 1st reading or Gospel. So, in this regard, the gradual serves a “separate-but-equal” purpose.

But then, there is the issue of congregational singing. I am not one to insist on congregational singing of texts that change from week to week, but at the same time, it is always kinda cool to hear the congregation sing a new text each week. It goes without saying, I think, that we should not expect a congregation to sing graduals or alleluias!

And where would you sing the gradual? (Heh, on the step!) If, as the Graduale implies with its asterisk, a choir sings, then it makes little (or no) sense to sing the gradual from the ambo, in contrast to the responsorial psalm, which is supposed to be sung from there. This changes the dynamic of the “chant after the first reading”, since its being sung away from the ambo would tend to emphasize its quality of being sung, whereas the resp. psalm’s being sung from the ambo would seem to emphasize its identity as a “text that we sing”, so to speak. (Of course, the floridness of the graduals bears this out - we definitely are engaged in liturgical music-making that is not so text-centric!)

For the time being, I would suggest singing the gradual on Good Friday, when it actually goes after the 2nd reading, not the 1st. (The tract and gradual are switched - funny thing.)


At Thursday, December 14, 2006 9:13:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Tucker said...

Well, this is pretty advanced stuff. I can imagine that this will happen in the future, but for now, the Responsorial Psalm is well entrenched into Roman Rite liturgical culture, or so it seems to me. I would be thrilled if a pastor requested the Gradual or Tract. We would do everything possible to make it happen (yikes, how much more rehearsal time?)

So maybe you are on to something: the Gradual on special days, the Responsorial Psalm on regular days.

So much of the confusion over this seems to relate to a more fundamental problem. The construction and implementation of the reformed liturgy seemed to lack a high consciousness concerning the musical demands of the Mass. Some of these details need to be worked out in future legislation or editions.

At Thursday, December 14, 2006 10:06:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

Part of the issue, though, is that the RP is itself “proper” to each Mass, insofar as being designated by the Church to be sung at this particular Mass. In other words, there truly is a “replacement”/substitute in the Mass for the texts of graduals, tracts, and alleluias, which cannot be said of introit, offertories, or communion chants.

....which, in a sense, is lamentable. I mean, they went through a LOT of work to make those RPs and pre-Gospel verses. (I wonder if there was ever an attempt at doing so for the processionals - more on this in a forthcoming post.)


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