Getting started

This page is intended to provide a summary guide to how one might go about starting a Schola to sing for Mass in the Extraordinary Form.   In particular which musical options are available which allow singers to start with simpler chant settings and then progress to the full settings in, for example, the Liber Usualis.

Low Mass with Music

It is not permitted to sing either the Ordinary of the Mass or the Propers at a Low Mass with music.   However it is permitted to sing other hymns and/or antiphons at appropriate points in the liturgy (e.g. during the Offertory and Communion).   A wide range of seasonal Gregorian chant hymns is available which have simple repeated refrains, many of which also have simple verse melodies.  This might prove the simplest starting point for a novice schola wishing to enhance the liturgy with music but having limited familiarity with Gregorian chant notation:  initially one modestly experienced cantor might sing the verses and all sing the refrain;  as experience is gained all might then sing the verses, and so on. 

Missa Cantata

For a Missa Cantata it is necessary to sing all of the Ordinary and Responses, and all of the Propers of the Mass.   However it is not required that these be sung in their most elaborate Gregorian chant form as in, for example, the Liber Usualis.   It is therefore perfectly acceptable to sing the texts to simpler chants (for example, using settings of the texts to simple psalm tones) according to the skills and experience of the schola singers and director.

Singing the Ordinary

   Basic Feria  Basic Sunday  Experienced
 Asperges
    / Vidi aquam
 Simple  Simple  Simple / Solemn
 Kyrie  XVII / XVI  VIII  XVII / VIII / XI / I / etc.
 Gloria  -
 VIII  XVII / VIII / XI / I / etc.
 Credo  III  III  III / I
 Sanctus  XVII / XVI
 VIII  XVII / VIII / XI / I / etc.
 Agnus  XVII / XVI
 VIII  XVII / VIII / XI / I / etc.

Singing the Propers

The following table offers some specific steps on a path from singing all  of the Propers of the Mass to simple psalm tone to singing the full Propers from the Liber Usualis.   However the options listed are not exhaustive so that, for example, as singers become more experienced one might combine the Introit and Offertory in psalm tone with the Gradual and Alleluia with only the verse reduced to psalm tone (a la Liber Brevior), but with a full Communion antiphon from the Liber Usualis.

   Psalm tone  Chants Abrege  Liber Brevior
 (& Reduced Gradual)
 Liber Usualis  Experienced+
 Introit  Psalm tone    -  Full
 -
 Gradual  Psalm tone
   Full Respond
 + Psalm tone Verse

 Full
 -
 - Alleluia (I)  Psalm tone
 Alleluia + Verse

 Simplified Alleluia 
 + Psalm tone Verse
 Full Alleluia
 + Psalm tone Verse

 Full
 -
 Alleluia (II)  Psalm tone
 Alleluia + Verse

 Simplified Alleluia
 + Psalm tone Verse
 Full Alleluia
 + Psalm tone Verse

 Full
 -
 - Tract  Psalm tone
   -  Full
 -
 - Sequence  Psalm tone
   -  Full
 -
 Offertory  Psalm tone
   -  Full
 Full + Psalm verse(s)
 Communion  Psalm tone
   -  Full  Full + Psalm verse(s)
           
 Examples
           
 Epiphany  Psalm Tone  Chants Abreges  Liber Brevior  Full  
 Low Sunday  Psalm Tone  Chants Abreges  Liber Brevior  Full  

Sources

 The following is a non-exhaustive list of online sources for the options identified above.

 Source  Link
 GregoBase  https://gregobase.selapa.net/scores.php
 Gregorio Propers Tool  https://bbloomf.github.io/jgabc/propers.html (also available as an App)
 Musica Sacra (Richard Rice)  http://musicasacra.com/resource-lists/

Other tools

Playback & sound files

Practical matters

Choosing a starting note

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