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gradual

grad·u·al / ˈgrajoōəl/ • adj. taking place or progressing slowly or by degrees: the gradual introduction of new methods. ∎  (of a slope) not steep or abrupt. • n. (in the Western Christian Church) a response sung or recited between the Epistle and Gospel in the Mass. ∎  a book of plainsong for the Mass. DERIVATIVES: grad·u·al·ly adv. grad·u·al·ness n.

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gradual

gradual in the Western Christian Church, a response sung or recited between the Epistle and Gospel in the Mass; the name comes (in the mid 16th century) from the earlier gradual adjective, from medieval Latin gradualis, from Latin gradus ‘step’. The original sense of the adjective was ‘arranged in degrees’; the noun refers to the altar steps in a church, from which the antiphons were sung.

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Gradual

Gradual.
1. The Respond sung in the service of the Mass between the Epistle and Gospel.

2. The book containing the concentus of the traditional plainsong of the Mass, i.e. it is the choir's (or congregation's) mus. companion to the Missal—in which last the only mus. is the accentus or priest's parts.

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Gradual

Gradual (Lat., gradus, ‘step’). The antiphons, usually from the Psalms, sung after the first lesson from the Bible in the mass.

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gradual

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Gradual

GRADUAL

In the medieval Roman Rite of the Mass, the term "Gradual" had a double usage:(1) the first of two chants sung between the readings in the Liturgy of the Word; and (2) the book containing the entire collection of chants for the Mass.

This article concerns only the chant sung after the first Scripture reading. The term is derived from early Christian usage: at one time a soloist sang this chant from the steps (Latin, gradus ) of the ambo, the platform reserved for the deacon's singing of the Gospel. Yet in the oldest MSS (up to the 11th and 12th centuries), the chant known as the Gradual was called Responsorium (responsorial psalm).

History. The responsorial psalm is a very ancient and very simple musical form once widely used in the early Church, and it was revived in the wake of the liturgical reforms of Vatican II. A soloist intones a text in strophe form (the psalm, among the Jews), and the choir repeats a very short refrain after each strophe (Greek [symbol omitted]παχόη, or responsa ). In the synagogue service there was a psalm or a canticle to be sung after the readings; the first Christians continued the same custom. In the earliest form of the Mass in the West, there were three readings: one from the Old Testament followed by a psalm, one of the New Testament epistles followed by the Alleluia verse, and finally the Gospel. The responsorial singing of the psalm is witnessed to from earliest times: Const. Apost. (2:57.6), St. Augustine (In Psalm. 119; Patrologia Latina 37:1596), St. Leo (Serm. 3; Patrologia Latina 54:145). The Roman Council of 595 deprived deacons of the privilege of singing the Gradual psalm. Probably it was at this time that the responsa lost its simple syllabic form and became enriched musically into an ornate selection, while its execution became the business of the specialists of the schola cantorum.

Historically, the Gradual was sung like a responsory in the Office, i.e., the first part was repeated after the verse. This system has been preserved in certain MSS for

the Gradual that was traditionally assigned to June 24R: Priusquam te formarem sanctificavi te. V: Misit Dominus et dixit mihi. Rep.: Priusquam sanctificavi te. The Gradual Ecce quam bonum (that was assigned to the 22d Sunday after Pentecost in the Tridentine Missal) formerly had a second verse that has now disappeared. The Gradual Haec dies (Easter) has seven distinct verses that were distributed throughout Easter week during the medieval period, but they were originally part of a single gradual. In the 9th and 10th centuries the Graduals (and alleluias) were often copied into a special collection, the cantatorium, a book elongated in form, with a cover sheathed in plaques of carved ivory. In Milan the Gradual has the name of Psalmellus (short psalmody); its composition is much more elaborate than the Gregorian Gradual of Rome. In the ancient Hispanic liturgy it was called the Psallendo; after the versicle only the second part of the responsory was repeated, from the section marked "P." (presa, repeat ).

Musical Aspects. The gradual, although an ornate chant, was not composed without rules proper to spontaneous improvisation. It has a musical timbre for each mode, adapted, according to rigorous rules, to texts of varying lengths. In the modes of D, a single timbre (of the type of Justus ut palma ) has been adapted to 18 other texts; in the modes on E, a single timbre serves for 12 graduals; in the modes on F, 44 verses of graduals are constructed according to the same melodic outline. Whatever the mode of the Gradual, the versicle has a more extended range than does the response, as its melodic weaving is carried higher.

Bibliography: j. a. jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite, tr. f. a. brunner, 2 v. (New York 195155). w. apel, Gregorian Chant (Bloomington, Ind. 1958) 34463. h. hucke, "Towards a New Historical View of Gregorian Chant," Journal of the American Musicological Society 30 (1980) 43767. r.-j. hesbert, "Le graduel, chant responsorial," Ephemerides liturgicae 95 (1981) 31650. m. huglo, "Le répons-graduel de la messe: Évolution de la forme: permanence de la function," International Musicological Society Congress Report 13 (1982) 5377. p. jeffery, "The Introduction of Psalmody into the Roman Mass by Pope Celestine I (422432): Reinterpreting a Passage in the Liber pontificalis," Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft 26 (1984) 14755. j. mckinnon, "The Fourth-Century Origin of the Gradual," Early Music History 7 (1987) 91106. r. crocker, "Chants of the Roman Mass," New Oxford History of Music 2 (2/1990) 196214. d. hiley, Western Plainchant: A Handbook (Oxford 1993). j. mckinnon, "Preface to the Study of the Alleluia," Early Music History 15 (1996) 21349.

[m. huglo/eds.]

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