HE CMAA HAS SCANNED many books, making them available for free online. They were doing this at the same time the Lalande Library was scanning & uploading my own personal collection of chant books, and it was my pleasure to work closely with the CMAA. We both realized it made no sense to spend money obtaining, scanning, and uploading books already available through other websites.
The Lalande Library was the first to provide online access to extremely rare collections like the NOH, Mocquereau’s 1903 Liber Usualis, the graduals of Pothier & Hermesdorff, and so forth. But the CMAA also offered fantastic stuff, and the following are among their finest:
The 1930 version is beautiful, but contains several typos, 1 so it’s probably better to use the 1955.
Solesmes offered another version of the “Chants Abrégés” in 1954, but the typesetting may confuse some:
SOME HAVE ASKED who wrote the Chants Abrégés. In the minutes (circa 1903) from the committee in charge of the Editio Vaticana (“Vatican Edition”)—which is still the official Gregorian edition for the Catholic Church—we find the following:
With regard to the formulas to be adopted for the simple chanting of the Graduals, Tracts, and Alleluia verses, Dr. Wagner proposes that, to this end, reference be made to the formulas of the responsorial psalms that have fallen into disuse. The liturgical nature of these chants would thus be maintained. Dom Mocquereau shares this opinion.
When the question of provenance was put to Fr. Robert Skeris in 2008, he wrote:
HE MOST DIFFICULT CHANTS in the Graduale have always been a particular challenge for even the average parish choir, in any country. It is by no means only the XXth century that has sought to overcome this difficulty in practise by proposing simpler alternatives. The Chants Abrégés are an attempt to find a via media which would be useful in a typical parish. Dom Gajard was chef d`atelier of the Paléo at the time, and under his supervision the booklet went to press. The tunes seem to have been chosen from various sources ranging from ordinary psalm tones simple or solemn (e.g. Introit psalmody) through melodic types for Allelujas etc. (e.g. Processionale of 1887) and Toni Communes for Gloria and Alleluja in the Mattins responsories (e.g. Liber Responsorialis 1895) to tones for Invitatory psalms or other simple cantillation formulae such as lections or Historiae Passionis, similar to those which Gajard suggested to Mrs Ward for the booklet of seasonal Mass Propers she published during the Second War.
The 1954 version was taken from the Liber Brevior of Solesmes, which the CMAA also placed online about a decade ago.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 Accents are sometimes incorrect—and some notes are, too.