What book(s) do you need to “Sing the Mass”? Hopefully, the chart below will provide more than quick book recommendations, but also tools to assess any book not mentioned here.
The book(s) you need depend(s) on what form of Mass you choose to attend:
- Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (Tridentine Mass), read left of the chart
- Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, with Gregorian Chant, read center of the chart
- Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, with songs in English, read right of the chart.
If you are unfamiliar with the terms above, you likely attend the Ordinary Form (also called Novus Ordo)
The music gathered in the Graduale Romanum represents centuries of prayerful singing of the Mass. It may not be the easiest to sing, but has proven its Sacramental efficiency at Mass. Recent publications represent contemporary publishers’ ideas for a liturgical music that is “less work”. However, the very definition of the word liturgy (leitourgos) is work. Liturgy means the participation of the people of God to the Work of God (watch 5 minute video from the Liturgical Institute).
Download this chart: Songbooks and relation to Roman Gradual
The two top corners lists the “three degrees of Participation” per the Church documents on liturgy: before Vatican II (left top corner), and after Vatican II (right top corner). In the top center is the official songbook of the Church: the Roman Gradual.
The two bottom corners illustrate the reality on the ground, when Holy Mass is not prepared adequately, and the music ministers come up with some replacement plans. As Archbishop Sample recently reminded us: “we do not plan Holy Mass; the Church has already provided us with a plan. We prepare to celebrate the Mass.” (Sing to the Lord a New Song p.12 “preparation, not planning”). The “Four-Hymn sandwich” model started before Vatican II (left bottom corner), but is now thriving, with many publishers selling hymns that instrumentalists in position of music ministry can plan in replacement of the Proper text of the Holy Mass, and support with instruments the singing of an unprepared congregation (right bottom corner. Gray area).
To prepare Holy Mass, the books in the yellow rectangles are the best to be both “official” and easy to use (ex: English translations and instructions).
In the white rectangles, you will find good “intermediary steps” to practice preparing Holy Mass, with books that require less latin or musical skills than the “official” Roman Gradual.
Where to find these books?
Parish Book of Chant (2nd edition) : free download or buy online.
Resources for latin verses: the duration of the chanting for the Introit, the Offertory and the Communion is often adjusted to match the action (processing, incensing,…) and can vary. Verses like the below are then used:
- Introit – Gloria Patri tones : gloriapatri
- Offertory verses : offertoriale1935 or a simpler version offertory verses-simple
- Communion verses : Communio_RRice_2010 (Note: an index of the communion antiphons can be downloaded for each Form of the Roman rite:
Resources in English by Adam Bartlett : Lumen Christi collection
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