Singing the Mass starts with singing the dialogues and responses and the Pater Noster (first degree of participation per Musicam Sacram paragraph 28), then singing the Kyriale and Credo (second degree).
A simplified way to understand these “degrees of participation” is:
- FIRST DEGREE : Music that does not change, stays the same at every Mass (or changes only if a Bishop or Pope celebrates)
- SECOND DEGREE: Music that changes with the liturgical calendar, but the words stay the same. The music would for example differentiate a solemnity from a weekday Mass. It would be also different in Advent than during Easter time.
- THIRD DEGREE: words and music proper to each Mass. The “Proper” of the Mass are an extension of the lectionary (readings) that also change for every Mass.
The “SECOND DEGREE” contains mostly what is called the “ORDINARY”, or “KYRIALE”. Wikipedia defines the “Kyriale” as a “collection of Gregorian Chant settings for the Ordinary of the Mass”. In the context of singing at Mass, the words “Kyriale”, “Ordinary” or “Mass settings” mean basically the same thing. But “Kyriale” emphasizes the 1500-year tradition. Those who sang some of the eighteen Gregorian Masses and six Credos also know that it is one of the richest and most beautiful musical traditions of the Church. “Tradition” implies that this “Kyriale” was handed over to us over the centuries. Over hundreds and hundreds of years, the clergy, musicians and faithful who knew their “Kyriale” gave their time to pass along their skills. Centuries after centuries, they would teach their congregations and foster the “active participation” that Vatican II reminds us is always a priority in the Catholic Liturgy. We propose to continue this tradition.
You can practice six different Kyriale on this site (you can also find good recordings of up to eighteen Gregorian Kyriale by browsing the internet):
The “third degree” of active participation, per Musicam Sacram, is the “Proper of the Mass”. This is the music that changes at every Mass. You can practice upcoming Sundays at the link below: