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CNP Feedback - Gospel Verse

The "Feedback Box" on the CanticaNOVA Publications website has proven quite effective in promoting communications on a variety of subjects, and expressing concerns of liturgists and musicians. From time to time, we'll compile a few of these questions or comments and put them in public view, with the hope that others with similar concerns may benefit from their content.

Q. Dear CNP:

As the new Music Director for our parish, I have found your site to be extrememly helpful. It is stated that the words for the verse of the Alleluia are taken from the Lectionary or the Graduale. I don't know what that means, and there seems to be a lot of confusion about it at our church. If you could help us out with this, I would be very grateful. Thank you so much.

Gospel Vs. Confusion

A. Dear GVC:

Congratulations on your new position as Music Director! And thanks for your kind words about this site.

To answer your question about the texts for the Gospel verse:
  1. These are found in the Lectionary (lection means "reading"). This book contains the texts for all the readings (First Reading, Responsorial Psalm, Second Reading, Gospel Verse, Gospel) for every Sunday, weekday, and special celebration for the entire liturgical year. Up until 1998, this information was compiled in one book, simply called the Lectionary. Every parish had one (or more). It is the book (usually red) from which the lector read the First and Second Readings.

    In 1998 the Lectionary was revised, and in an effort to improve the layout and make the page more readable, it was enlarged and expanded to four volumes:

    1. Sundays and Solemnities, Years A B C
    2. Weekdays, Year I
    3. Weekdays, Year II
    4. Ritual and Votive Masses (like Funerals, Weddings, Confirmation, etc.)
    Your parish will have a set of these books. If you wish to have a copy of your own, Volume I (Sundays) is most important to the parish musician.

    The text for all the Gospel verses for every Mass are found in the Lectionary. They are also found in "Missalette-style" publications and in some hymnals with readings. They are also on our Liturgical Planning Pages.

  2. The Roman Gradual (Graduale Romanum) is a collection of the proper Gregorian chants for Masses during the year. It has both text and music (written in chant notation) and is the official musical-liturgical book of the Church. It contains an Alleluia chant (Gospel verse) for each Mass in the year. They are meant to be sung by a small choir (schola) and, while legitimately used in the Roman Rite, are not what we normally hear as the Gospel Acclamation in the U.S. They are not matched to the Gospel reading (which is different for each year of the three year cycle), but are included with the particular Sunday's Mass. For example, in the Lectionary (which follows the 3-year cycle) the Gospel verses for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time are:

    Year A)  The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord; and you also will testify.
    Year B)  A great prophet has risen in our midst. God has visited his people.
    Year C)  My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.

    The Gospel verse from the Roman Gradual for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time is:

    Alleluia. In te Domine speravi, non confundar in aeternum: in tua iustitia libera me, et eripe me: inclina ad me aurem tuam, accelera ut eripias me.
    [trans: Alleluia. In thee, Lord, do I hope; let me never be confounded. In thy justice, rescue me and deliver me; incline your ear to me, hasten to deliver me.]

  3. The Simple Gradual (Graduale Simplex) is a collection of some "composite Masses" for use during the liturgical seasons and Ordinary Time. The music is simpler, and the contents are less extensive than the Roman Gradual, although the music is still written in chant notation. This official book includes a Gospel verse for each of the composite Masses. There are 8 Masses from among which you might choose for the 33 Sundays in Ordinary Time. As an example, the Gospel verse for Mass IV is:

    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    V.1 Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion; et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
    V.2 Qui audis orationem, ad te omnis caro veniet propter iniquitatem.
    [trans: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    V.1 A hymn, O God, becometh thee in Sion: and a vow shall be paid to thee in Jerusalem.
    V.2 You, who heareth prayer: all flesh shall come to thee because of its sins.]

    This can be used with a congregation singing the refrain ("Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia") and a choir/soloist singing either verse (or both), much as we normally hear at Mass these days.

  4. The book, By Flowing Waters, by Paul Ford, is an English translation of the Simple Gradual. All the contents are the same — the texts are translated into English, and the music is adapted slightly and written in modern notation. The Gospel verse for Mass IV is:

    Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
    V.1 Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed.
    V.2 O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come.

    This, too, can be sung by cantor (or choir) and congregation.

You wrote: "there seems to be a lot of confusion about it at our church." I'm not sure where the confusion lies. The normal practice in most Catholic churches in this country does not involve any of these latter books. Most parishes indirectly use the Lectionary for the Gospel verse. I say "indirectly" because if a parish subscribes to a "missalette-style" congregation book, or to a legitimate bound hymnal, the publishing companies always offer a book to the parish that contains the Responsorial Psalms and the Gospel Acclamations (with verses) for the year, taken from the official Lectionary. If you don't have these, you can contact the publisher of your congregation books to buy them.

It should be pointed out that you do not need to limit yourself to the volume(s) published to coincide with your particular congregation book. The texts will be the same for any publisher's volumes, and you may certainly choose the musical setting you like best. The psalm refrains and the alleluias that the congregation sings are easy enough to repeat after a cantor on hearing (without music to see).

CNP publishes some Gospel Acclamations: and Responsorial Psalms: I hope this is helpful in understanding where the Gospel verses are found.

Gary Penkala
CanticaNOVA Publications

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