Gradual

Gradual

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The Gradual is a chant
Chant
Chant is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures Chant (from French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing...

 or hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

 in the liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 celebration of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 for many Christian denominations. In the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

 it was and is sung after the reading or chanting of the Epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

 and before the Alleluia
Alleluia
The word "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" , which at its most literal means "Praise Yah", is used in different ways in Christian liturgies....

, or, during penitential seasons, before the Tract
Tract (liturgy)
The tract is part of the proper of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, which is used instead of the Alleluia during Lenten or pre-Lenten seasons, in a Requiem Mass, and on a few other penitential occasions, when the joyousness of an Alleluia is deemed...

. In the Mass of Paul VI
Mass of Paul VI
The Mass of Pope Paul VI is the liturgy of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council...

 the gradual corresponds to the Responsorial Psalm. There is the option to replace this psalm with the gradual, but its use is extremely rare. It is part of the Proper
Proper (liturgy)
The Proper is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the Liturgical Year, or of a particular saint or significant event...

 of the Mass.

Gradual can also refer to a book collecting all the musical items of the Mass. The official such book for the Roman Rite
Roman Rite
The Roman Rite is the liturgical rite used in the Diocese of Rome in the Catholic Church. It is by far the most widespread of the Latin liturgical rites used within the Western or Latin autonomous particular Church, the particular Church that itself is also called the Latin Rite, and that is one of...

 is the Roman Gradual
Roman Gradual
The Roman Gradual is an official liturgical book of the Roman Rite containing chants, including the Gradual but many more as well, for use at Mass...

 (in Latin, Graduale Romanum). Other such books include the Dominican Gradual.

History


The Gradual, like the Alleluia and Tract, is one of the responsorial chants of the Mass. Responsorial chants derive from early Christian traditions of singing choral refrains called responds between psalm verses. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

, it (and the associated Alleluia or Tract) is the oldest of the chants of the Proper
Proper (liturgy)
The Proper is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the Liturgical Year, or of a particular saint or significant event...

 of the Mass, and, in contrast to the Introit
Introit
The Introit is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations. In its most complete version, it consists of an antiphon, psalm verse and Gloria Patri that is spoken or sung at the beginning of the celebration...

, Offertory
Offertory
The Offertory is the portion of a Eucharistic service when bread and wine are brought to the altar. The offertory exists in many liturgical Christian denominations, though the Eucharistic theology varies among celebrations conducted by these denominations....

, and Communion
Communion (chant)
The Communion is the Gregorian chant sung during the distribution of the Eucharist in the Roman Rite Catholic Mass. It is one of the antiphonal chants of the Proper of the Mass, and the final chant in the proper...

, the only one that was not sung to accompany some other liturgical action, historically a procession. Until about the fifth century, it included singing a whole psalm. They were sung in the form of a psalmus responsorius, i.e. the whole text was chanted by a reader appointed for this purpose. For some time before Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

, to sing these psalms was a privilege of deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s at Rome, a privilege he suppressed in 595. The people answered each clause or verse with an acclamation. This apparently dates back to the synagogue
Synagogue
A synagogue is a Jewish house of prayer. This use of the Greek term synagogue originates in the Septuagint where it sometimes translates the Hebrew word for assembly, kahal...

 tradition, and can even be seen in the structure of some Psalms (such as 136|135). Originally, there was a psalm sung between each reading, of which in the fifth century there were three (Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

, Epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

, and Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

). When the Old Testament reading was later dropped, the other two psalms became the Gradual and Alleluia
Alleluia
The word "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" , which at its most literal means "Praise Yah", is used in different ways in Christian liturgies....

, ordinarily sung one after another, until the 1970 Missal restored the three readings on Sundays and Solemnities
Solemnity
A Solemnity of the Roman Catholic Church is a principal holy day in the liturgical calendar, usually commemorating an event in the life of Jesus, his mother Mary, or other important saints. The observance begins with the vigil on the evening before the actual date of the feast...

.

The modern Gradual always consists of two psalm verses, generally (but not always) taken from the same psalm. There are a few Graduals that use a book of scripture other than the Psalms (for example, the verse for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Immaculate Conception
The Immaculate Conception of Mary is a dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, according to which the Virgin Mary was conceived without any stain of original sin. It is one of the four dogmata in Roman Catholic Mariology...

 is from the Book of Judith), or even non-scriptural verses (for example, the first verse in the Requiem
Requiem
A Requiem or Requiem Mass, also known as Mass for the dead or Mass of the dead , is a Mass celebrated for the repose of the soul or souls of one or more deceased persons, using a particular form of the Roman Missal...

).

The Gradual is believed to have been so named because it was sung on the step (Latin: gradus) of the altar, or perhaps because the deacon was mounting the steps of the ambo
Ambon (liturgy)
The Ambon or Ambo is a projection coming out from the soleas in an Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic church. The ambon stands directly in front of the Holy Doors...

 for the reading or singing of the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

. However, early sources use the form gradale ("graded" or "distinguished"), and the Alia Musica (c. 900) uses the term antiphona gradalis for the Introit
Introit
The Introit is part of the opening of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations. In its most complete version, it consists of an antiphon, psalm verse and Gloria Patri that is spoken or sung at the beginning of the celebration...

.

Liturgical use


The Gradual is to be sung after the reading of the Epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

. It is ordinarily followed by the Alleluia
Alleluia
The word "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" , which at its most literal means "Praise Yah", is used in different ways in Christian liturgies....

 or Tract
Tract (liturgy)
The tract is part of the proper of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, which is used instead of the Alleluia during Lenten or pre-Lenten seasons, in a Requiem Mass, and on a few other penitential occasions, when the joyousness of an Alleluia is deemed...

, but in Masses that have more readings than normal, such as during Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, these may be separated by another reading, or, if there are more than three readings, there is more than one Gradual, and finally the Tract, to separate each reading. In Eastertide
Eastertide
Eastertide, or the Easter Season, or Paschal Time, is the period of fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday.It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, indeed as the "great Lord's Day". Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter, and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection,...

, the Gradual is normally omitted, and a second Alleluia is sung in its place, except within the Octave
Octave (liturgical)
"Octave" has two senses in Christian liturgical usage. In the first sense, it is the eighth day after a feast, reckoning inclusively, and so always falls on the same day of the week as the feast itself. The word is derived from Latin octava , with dies understood...

 of Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

. In what is now the ordinary form
Mass of Paul VI
The Mass of Pope Paul VI is the liturgy of the Catholic Mass of the Roman Rite promulgated by Paul VI in 1969, after the Second Vatican Council...

 of the Roman Rite, the Responsorial Psalm normally takes the place of the Gradual, and is sung after the first reading, but it may be replaced by the Gradual.

In the Tridentine Mass
Tridentine Mass
The Tridentine Mass is the form of the Roman Rite Mass contained in the typical editions of the Roman Missal that were published from 1570 to 1962. It was the most widely celebrated Mass liturgy in the world until the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI in December 1969...

, the celebrant himself reads the Gradual with the Alleluia, Tract, or Sequence
Sequence (poetry)
A sequence is a chant or hymn sung or recited during the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, before the proclamation of the Gospel. By the time of the Council of Trent there were sequences for many feasts in the Church's year.The sequence has always been sung...

 immediately after he has read the Epistle, and at the same place, even if the choir sings it too. There is no rule for the distribution of its parts within the choir. All may be sung straight through by the whole choir, but it is more common to divide the texts so that some parts are sung by one or two cantors. A common arrangement is that the cantors sing the first words of the Gradual (to the asterisk in the choir-books), the choir continues, and the cantors sing the verse. Normally it is all sung to plainsong
Plainsong
Plainsong is a body of chants used in the liturgies of the Catholic Church. Though the Eastern Orthodox churches and the Catholic Church did not split until long after the origin of plainchant, Byzantine chants are generally not classified as plainsong.Plainsong is monophonic, consisting of a...

.

In other churches and rites, there are fragments of the psalms once sung between the lessons that correspond to the Roman Gradual. Their placement and structure depend strongly on how many readings there are. In the Byzantine Rite
Byzantine Rite
The Byzantine Rite, sometimes called the Rite of Constantinople or Constantinopolitan Rite is the liturgical rite used currently by all the Eastern Orthodox Churches, by the Greek Catholic Churches , and by the Protestant Ukrainian Lutheran Church...

 the reader of the epistle first chants "the Psalm of David" and then the "Prokeimenon
Prokeimenon
In the liturgical practice of the Orthodox Church, a Prokeimenon is a psalm or canticle refrain sung responsorially at certain specified points of the Divine Liturgy or the Divine Office, usually to introduce a scripture reading...

 of the Apostle", both short fragments of psalms. The Armenian Rite
Armenian Rite
The Armenian Rite is an independent liturgy. This rite is used by both the Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic Churches; it is also the rite of a significant number of Eastern Catholic Christians in the Republic of Georgia....

, which has kept the older arrangement of three lessons, includes between each a fragment called the Saghmos Jashu (Psalm of dinnertime) and the Mesedi (mesodion), again a verse or two from a psalm. The Nestorians
East Syrian Rite
The East Syrian Rite is a Christian liturgy, also known as the Assyro-Chaldean Rite, Assyrian or Chaldean Rite, and the Persian Rite although it originated in Edessa, Mesopotamia...

 use three verses of psalms each followed by three Alleluias (this group is called Zumara) after the Epistle. The present Ambrosian Rite
Ambrosian Rite
Ambrosian Rite, also called the Milanese Rite, is a Catholic liturgical Western Rite. The rite is named after Saint Ambrose, a bishop of Milan in the fourth century...

 sometimes has a Prophecy before the Epistle, in which case there follows the Psalmellus, two or three verses from a psalm, which corresponds to the Gradual. The Mozarabic Rite
Mozarabic Rite
The Mozarabic, Visigothic, or Hispanic Rite is a form of Catholic worship within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and in the Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church . Its beginning dates to the 7th century, and is localized in the Iberian Peninsula...

 has three lessons, with a psalm (Psallendo) sung between the first two. Among Protestant churches, Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

s sing a Gradual either between the Old Testament and the Epistle or the Epistle and the Gospel readings during the Divine Service.

Musical form and style


The usual form of the Gradual is a single respond with a solo verse, although a final repetition of the respond was found up to the Renaissance and is still permitted by the Liber usualis
Liber Usualis
The Liber Usualis is a book of commonly used Gregorian chants in the Catholic tradition, compiled by the monks of the Abbey of Solesmes in France....

.

Graduals are among the most florid and melisma
Melisma
Melisma, in music, is the singing of a single syllable of text while moving between several different notes in succession. Music sung in this style is referred to as melismatic, as opposed to syllabic, where each syllable of text is matched to a single note.-History:Music of ancient cultures used...

tic of all Gregorian chants; Clamaverunt iusti, for example, has melismas with up to 66 notes. Graduals as a group are also notable for melismas that stress one or two pitches, both through repeated notes and repercussive neume
Neume
A neume is the basic element of Western and Eastern systems of musical notation prior to the invention of five-line staff notation. The word is a Middle English corruption of the ultimately Ancient Greek word for breath ....

s. Both the verse and the respond tend to be similar in style, excepting a tendency for the verse to have a higher tessitura
Tessitura
In music, the term tessitura generally describes the most musically acceptable and comfortable range for a given singer or, less frequently, musical instrument; the range in which a given type of voice presents its best-sounding texture or timbre...

.

Like Tracts, most Graduals show clear signs of centonization
Centonization
In music centonization is a theory about the composition of a melody, melodies, or piece based on pre-existing melodic figures and formulas...

, a process of composition in which an extended vocabulary of stock musical phrases are woven together. Some phrases are only used for incipit
Incipit
Incipit is a Latin word meaning "it begins". The incipit of a text, such as a poem, song, or book, is the first few words of its opening line. In music, it can also refer to the opening notes of a composition. Before the development of titles, texts were often referred to by their incipits...

s, some only for cadence
Cadence (gait)
Cadence in sports involving running is the total number of 'revolutions per minute' , or number of full cycles taken within a minute, by the pair of feet, and is used as a measure of athletic performance. It is very similar in respect to cadence in cycling, however it is often overlooked in its...

s, and some only in the middle of a musical line. The Gregorian Graduals can be organized into musical families that share common musical phrases. Although nearly half of the Gregorian Graduals belong to a family of related chants in the fifth mode, the most famous family of Graduals are those of the second mode, commonly called the Iustus ut palma
Iustus ut palma
Iustus ut palma is the title of a number of sacred choral works which use Psalm 92:12 in the Latin Vulgate as lyrics. The Justus ut palma group refers to a family of melodically related Graduals in the Gregorian chant repertory....

group after one representative chant. The Graduals of the Old Roman chant
Old Roman chant
Old Roman chant is the liturgical plainchant repertory of the Roman rite of the Roman Catholic Church formerly performed in Rome, closely related to but distinct from the Gregorian chant, which gradually supplanted it between the 11th century and the 13th century...

 fall similarly into centonization families, including a family corresponding to the Iustus ut palma group.

Polyphonic settings


Graduals were among the parts of the Mass most frequently composed as organa
Organum
Organum is, in general, a plainchant melody with at least one added voice to enhance the harmony, developed in the Middle Ages. Depending on the mode and form of the chant, a supporting bass line may be sung on the same text, the melody may be followed in parallel motion , or a combination of...

, including both the St. Martial School
St. Martial School
The Saint Martial School was a medieval school of composition centered in the Abbey of Saint Martial, Limoges, France. It is known for the composition of tropes, sequences, and early organum. In this respect, it was an important precursor to the Notre Dame School.Most of the manuscripts that are...

 and the Notre Dame School
Notre Dame school
The group of composers working at or near the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris from about 1160 to 1250, along with the music they produced, is referred to as the Notre Dame school, or the Notre Dame School of Polyphony....

. Ordinarily the parts that were sung by the soloist (the beginning of the respond and the verse) are the only parts so set, while the choral parts continued to be performed in plainsong. In 1198, Odo de Sully, Bishop of Paris, authorized polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 performances of Graduals, including Pérotin
Pérotin
Pérotin , also called Perotin the Great, was a European composer, believed to be French, who lived around the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th century. He was the most famous member of the Notre Dame school of polyphony and the ars antiqua style...

's famous four-part organa
Organum
Organum is, in general, a plainchant melody with at least one added voice to enhance the harmony, developed in the Middle Ages. Depending on the mode and form of the chant, a supporting bass line may be sung on the same text, the melody may be followed in parallel motion , or a combination of...

, Sederunt principes for St. Stephen's Day and Viderunt omnes for Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

.

Book



The term "Gradual" (or Graduale) also refers to certain books compiling the musical items of the Mass. A Gradual is generally distinguished from the Missal
Missal
A missal is a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary for the celebration of Mass throughout the year.-History:Before the compilation of such books, several books were used when celebrating Mass...

 by omitting the spoken items, and including the music for the sung parts. It includes both the Ordinary
Ordinary of the Mass
The ordinary, in Roman Catholic and other Western Christian liturgies, refers to the part of the Eucharist or of the canonical hours that is reasonably constant without regard to the date on which the service is performed...

 and Proper
Proper (liturgy)
The Proper is a part of the Christian liturgy that varies according to the date, either representing an observance within the Liturgical Year, or of a particular saint or significant event...

, as opposed to the Kyrial
Kyriale
The Kyriale is a collection of Gregorian chant settings for the Ordinary of the Mass. It contains eighteen Masses , six Credos, and several ad libitum chants...

, which includes only the Ordinary, and the Cantatory, which includes only the responsorial chants.

Originally the book was called an antiphonale missarum ("Antiphonal of the Mass"). Graduals, like the later Cantatory, may have originally included only the responsorial items, the Gradual, Alleluia
Alleluia
The word "Alleluia" or "Hallelujah" , which at its most literal means "Praise Yah", is used in different ways in Christian liturgies....

, and Tract
Tract (liturgy)
The tract is part of the proper of the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist for many Christian denominations, which is used instead of the Alleluia during Lenten or pre-Lenten seasons, in a Requiem Mass, and on a few other penitential occasions, when the joyousness of an Alleluia is deemed...

.

Footnotes

  1. Apel, Willi, ed (1972). Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd edition. Cambridge, Harvard University Press. Page 350.
          1. Apel (1972), ibid.

          External links



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