Plainchant Gradual for RCL Year B from OJN

Prompted by the previous post on English language graduals, Fr. John-Julian has sent me an electronic version of his just completed (note the 2009 copyright date!) Gradual that corresponds with the official lectionary of the Episcopal Church, the Revised Common Lectionary.

A quick history note for those primarily accustomed to the “new” liturgy… Formerly there were only two readings at a standard mass in the Western Church—the “Epistle” and the Gospel. When the cycles were first constructed they were separate as they circulated in two different books. They linked up with one another in the 8th century or so as exemplified by their combined treatment in the Commentarius in Evangelia et Epistolas of Smaragdus and as we find them in the writings of Amalarius of Metz. The “Epistle” was often but not always from the New Testament epistles; on fasts it came from the prophets—see Ash Wednesday in the American 1928 BCP  as a survival of this formerly consistent custom.

Was there a Psalm appointed? Well—yes and no. Technically, no—but there were Mass Propers appointed which originally served as an appointed psalm because the Introit and Gradual—and sometimes the Offertory and Communion—were often taken from the same psalm. After the Epistle, the choir would sing the Gradual (a psalm with an antiphon, eventually only a verse or two of the psalm), then proceed into the ceremony surrounding the Gospel. This was a Sequence incorporating an Alleluia or, in fasting seasons, a Tract. The Sequence/Tract was a fairly late addition to the mass, note that the 10th century Leofric Missal contains no incipts for Sequeces/Tracts. (Sequences as a whole were supressed at Trent with the exception of 5)

So—in Fr. John-Julian’s work you’ll find the psalm appointed for the Sunday/feast in the RCL treated as a gradual with an antiphon, then the appointed psalm with a matching tone. The Sequences are biblical verses preceded and followed by alleluias; the Tracts are sections of psalms or other biblical texts (viz. Proverbs for Lent 2). The Sequences/Tracts are to be sung before the Gospel.

Ok, that’s enough lead in, here’s the file as a PDF: rcl-b-all-graduals-ojn

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