Welcome to the Gregorian chant resources section of our website!
If you are familiar with various chant resources and know what edition you want, you can proceed right to the shopping pages or click on the edition title within the categories below.
If you are less familiar with the various chant books or would like a bit more help in discerning which editions may be of most use to you, read on and browse a bit!
Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, an expert in chant and parish music resources from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, has generously provided some recommendations based on the singing abilities and interests of a community and the contents of the editions. We’ve also included a section of related resources.
What Is Gregorian Chant?
A few more thoughts from Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB
Gregorian Chant for the Congregation
The Second Vatican Council stated that the faithful should be able to sing the ordinary parts of the Mass in Latin (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, no. 54). Catholic congregations in most parts of the world sing at least a few chants in Latin. But in the U.S., for the most part we have a ways to go in fulfilling SC 54. One need not look far to find resources for basic congregational Latin chant—every major Catholic hymnal or worship aid includes basic congregational Latin chants. The easiest places to start are with the Kyrie (which in fact is in Greek) and the Agnus Dei. Then one might advance to the Sanctus and perhaps the Pater Noster. The Gloria and Credo are more difficult because of their length. In any event, slow progress and pastoral sensitivity are advised.
There are several collections with more extensive congregational repertoire: Iubilate Deo, Liber Cantualis, and Kyriale Simplex.GIA publishes an edition of an earlier version of Iubilate Deo in modern notation: Jubilate Deo.
Easier Gregorian Chant for the Choir
Many choirs will be looking for easier chant than is found in the Graduale Romanum and the Graduale Triplex (see below), especially at first. A good place to start is with any of the major congregational hymnals. The Latin chants found there are intended for congregations, but it is likely that congregations are not (yet) able to sing them. The choir might sing easier Latin antiphons, Latin chant hymns, or chant hymns in English. Hymns are an easy place to start because the same melody is repeated for each stanza of text. Because the melody of a strophic hymn is formulaic and not intrinsically tied to the Latin text, hymns are the one part of the Latin chant repertoire that can be sung in any language.Other easier collections for choir are Graduale Simplex and Cantus Selecti.
Gregorian Chant for the Choir
Much of the Latin chant repertoire was written for a trained choir. Being more difficult, it was sung primarily in monasteries, cathedrals, colleges, and parishes with more extensive resources. In the right circumstances, parish choirs can still sing some of this chant.Graduale Romanum, Gregorian Missal for Sundays, Graduale Triplex.
Gregorian Chant for the Liturgy of the Hours
It is rather rare today to sing the Office in Latin (or, for that matter, in English). But it is important to know about the recent Office chant books, because they represent recent chant scholarship and developments, and also because the flexibility of the reformed liturgy allows for borrowing back and forth between Office and Mass music. Some might also want to know about the Office chants for the inclusion of some Latin when the Liturgy of the Hours is sung predominantly in English.
The customary name for an Office books is an antiphonale (“antiphoner” in English), named because it includes so many psalm antiphons. An antiphonale contains everything for the Liturgy of the Hours—basic service music for the dialogs and responses, a hymn for each hour, antiphons for singing before and after each psalm, gospel canticles with their antiphons, and Marian antiphons customarily sung after compline.
The two major rites for the Office historically were the Roman and the Benedictine, which are quite similar but vary in their psalm distribution and Office structure. The book for the Roman Office is the 1912 Antiphonale Romanum, and the book for the Benedictine office is the 1934 Antiphonale Monasticum. Since the Roman Office has been drastically reformed and abbreviated since Vatican II, and since the reformed Benedictine Office now varies from monastery to monastery, these two books are rather obsolete. But they are of current interest for various reasons. The 1912 book is the source for the post–Vatican II Graduale Simplex melodies. Since the chant books for the reformed post–Vatican II Roman Office have not yet been issued, the 1912 antiphonale is still all we have. The 1934 antiphonale is interesting because it has many of the same antiphons as the 1912 book, but the melodies are more correct according to the manuscripts. (One could use the 1934 antiphonale as a way of improving the melodies in the Graduale Simplex.)There are two major postconciliar Office resources that are important for Gregorian chant: Liber Hymnarius and Antiphonale Monasticum.
Additional Chant Resources
Introductory level texts (in English): Beginning Studies in Gregorian Chant, A Gregorian Chant Handbook.Chant recordings: Gregorian Easter; Immortal Gregorian Chant—Part 1; Immortal Gregorian Chant—Part 2; More Sublime Chant; Popular Masses; Puer Natus Est; Resurrexit; Requiem—Part 1: Good Friday and Office for the Dead; Requiem—Part 2: Mass of the Dead; Sublime Chant.
Scholarly texts (in English): The Musical Notation for Latin Liturgical Manuscripts, Gregorian Semiology.