Thursday, March 24, 2011

Help with the St. Louis Gradual

Now that the Mass translation is complete and on track, work on the legendary St. Louis Gradual by Fr. Samuel Weber can continue apace. The goal is a complete English Gradual for the ordinary form, and it is certainly within reach.

But there are many options to consider. The largest possible edition is all days of the year with antiphons and Psalms. This would likely be several volumes. I had suggested that what we really need is the equivalent of the Gregorian Missal that covers Sundays and feast days only, since this is what is used most often in parishes. Fr. agrees with that.

But that does not end all questions. The big one is whether to produce a pew edition without Psalms and just antiphons, and they make a separate edition for the cantor. I had suggested to him that this would be of limited use in parish environment. It is doubtful that such a book would need to be in the pews at all, and what we need is a schola edition that includes antiphons and all pointed Psalms. The people can have the antiphons printed in the program for the week for those who want the people to sing - though even this is not necessary.

There are many subtle points here. Are we ready to insist that, after all, the introit, offertory, and communion are schola parts and not people parts? Or is the socialization of hymn singing at the entrance so strong that people will expect to sing the antiphon or at least be given the opportunitty? If so, it is perhaps enough to print it in the program. Then there is the issue of whether in fact parishes are ready to adopt a single book for Mass propers or continue the current practice of picking and choosing between sources.

This is all part of the details of a transition from a hymn-based liturgy to one that actually employs music to sing the liturgy itself. This are difficult questions and no final answers. The issue here really comes down to which is most useful for parishes at this point in history.

If you would like to weigh in, consider these two possibilities:

Antiphons with limited Psalms for a pew edition (perhaps 400 pages)

Antiphons with full Psalmody for the schola (perhaps 700 pages)