Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Review: The Gregorian Missal

Title: The Gregorian Missal
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Price: $33.95 USD

The Gregorian Missal from Paraclete Press is a finely produced volume which gives the Gregorian Propers and Ordinary chants of the Mass according to the modern Roman rite, and in Gregorian notation. Not only that, it includes full parallel Latin-English translation of the spoken prayers of the Mass as well, including the four Eucharistic prayers. I daresay it could probably be used at the altar, but it certainly can be used in the choir loft and in the parish pew.

Thus, it is a mixture of a Latin-English Pauline Missal (minus the actual scripture readings from the lectionary), a Kyriale with various Gregorian settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, and also a kind of "Liber" which includes the Proper chants of the Mass for all the Sundays of the new liturgical calendar as well as for Solemnities (including the Easter Triduum). It also has the added bonus of including texts and chants often not heard, such as those of the Gradual (as opposed to the responsorial Psalm).

One thing I should note, while there is full Latin-English translation, the chants themselves are entirely in Latin. There are no English language chants. Where such to be developed (particularly and primarily as concern the propers) that could only improve an already excellent product. That being said, the strength of this volume is to be found particularly in the fact that the Propers are present at all in Latin chant (a rare enough thing), and especially in its Ordinary settings of the Mass in Latin. (Which also makes this product useable even after the new missal translation is in effect, because the Latin text will remain the same.)

The book is attractively hardbound in deep navy blue with gold lettering and is a nice useable size. It comes with 2 gold ribbons as well and has an attractive cream paper. All said, it has a nice permanent feel to it, which is something important as it lends a certain sense to the sacred liturgy -- which is why you have heard some Cardinals speak of removing paper missalettes which gives the impression of the liturgy as something disposable or somehow banal and ordinary, to be disposed of like yesterday's newspaper, rather than as the divinely inspired scriptures, sacred chants and prayers of the Church.

I believe this can be a profoundly important tool to help with the reform of the reform. I'd encourage parish priests and choir directors in particular to get copies. You may not use all of the chants in this volume at your parish, but you can use a significant number of them and begin to restore Latin and chant to your parish.

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