Starting in 2008, Watershed released a whole slew of books which remain of supreme importance to Gregorian scholars. Historic releases included such books as Mocquereau’s Liber Usualis (1904); Abbot Pothier’s Graduals & Antiphonary; Father Hermesdorff’s Graduale (both versions); and the Nova Organi Harmonia (Flor Peeters & Jules Van Nuffel). This 1896 book is not quite as significant as our 2008 releases, since much of it is contained in Pothier’s other books. On the other hand, it contains a tremendous amount of fascinating & rare chants:
If you’re like me, you will have a glorious time perusing this stupendous book. There’s no reason to describe it, since you can download the entire thing. However, I would mention:
1. The book was published in a very small format, which made it difficult to recognize morae vocis and angered Pope Pius X, who preferred the larger size of the Graduale.
2. The book contains many rare chants and especially local French feasts which seldom appear in any other book.
3. There is almost no artwork in the book, whereas Pothier’s 1884 Graduale had lush artwork. Most chants of the Temporale match Pothier’s earlier versions note-for-note.
4. The official title of the book above is:
Contenant La Messe Et L’office Pour Tous Les Dimanches Et Fêtes Doubles
Chant Grégorien • Solesmes Imprimerie Saint-Pierre 1896
5. We are accustomed to the term Liber Usualis (“Useful Book”) which doesn’t translate very well. In fact, what the French call a “Paroissien Romain”—when it contains music—is very similar. They used many titles in those days, such as Manuale Missae et Officiorum . Most people don’t realize the Solesmes monastery published a special version of the Liber Usualis with complete English translations five years before the Second Vatican Council began. The reason nobody knows it has to do with the title (“Mass & Vespers”), which most people fail to recognize as the Liber Usualis.
The titles for this 1896 book are in French, but everything else is written in Latin: