Here’s a tender little-known fact from our courtship days lo these many years ago: the first big purchase that M and I made together–before we were married–was a Liber Usualis reprint from St. Bonaventure Publications. (That probably comes as little surprise to those who know us…)
What is the Liber, you ask? It’s a big collection of helpful and important plainchant settings for masses throughout the year and the Sunday Offices (and Lauds of Feasts) according to the Roman Use as of 1953. Here’s the technical details from the introduction:
This Edition with complete musical notation includes the following:
1. The Kyriale with Cantus ad libitum.
2. The Mass of the Sundays and Feasts including those of double rank throughout the year, with Vespers and Compline for the same.
3. Prime, Terce, Sext, None, for Sundays and Feasts of the First and Second Class.
4. Matins of Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi; Lauds for Feasts of the First Class.
5. The Litanies: the Mass of Rogation Days, Ember Days, Easter and Whitsun weeks; the Vigils of Christmas, Epiphany and Whitsun.
6. The services of Ash Wednesday, the Triduum of Holy Week and Easter Day.
7. The principal Votive Masses and the Offices for the Dead.
In the beginning of the book will be found the Common Tones of the Mass and Office. Chants for special occasions, e. g. the Blessing of the Holy Oils, Ordinations, etc, are included in the Appendix.
If you do anything or have any interest in chant–you need this!! (And at this price, why not? :-D) It is, of course, in Latin with square notation but it has a fine English language introduction to the basics of chant and a full explanation and presentations of the 8+1 psalm tones.
While the Liber is very helpful for people doing research in medieval liturgy, I must warn you that anything you find here must be backed up by properly contemporary evidence as this really is the 1953 rite. For instance, its hymns are the
hacked-up reformed versions promulgated by the Renaissance pope Clement VII.