Gradual





Mass/Office: Mass

Ordinary/Proper: Proper

Text Setting: Melismatic

Form: Respond - Psalm Verse


Graduals stand out as among the most florid of chants, in part because they were sung by soloists (responsorially with the choir) when no other ritual actions were taking place and the music was the focus of attention.

A gradual consists of a respond, begun by one or two soloists and continued by the choir, and a psalm verse, sung by the soloist(s) with the choir joining in on the last word. The beginning of the verse is indicated in modern editions by a double bar and the abbreviation for "verse" (capital V with a diagonal stroke through it). In medieval practice the respond was then sung by the choir after the psalm verse; in modern church practice, the repetition of the respond is omitted.

NAWM 3d, Viderunt omnes, is a Gradual in mode 5. You can distinguish the respond and the verse by listening for the change of singers. The soloist (the cantor, the leader of the choir) sings the first two words of the respond, then the choir completes it, cadencing on the final of the mode after a melisma on "terra." The soloist then begins the verse (at "Notum fecit") and sings all but the last two words of the verse, where the choir joins in (at "justitiam suam"). There are many melismas in both the respond and the verse; the verse includes one (on "Dominus") of over fifty notes.

Listen to the respond and to the verse

There is a different Gradual in the second edition of NAWM (3e), in mode 3. See if you can hear where the respond ends and the verse begins.
Listen to online copy


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Last updated: 19 August 2006
URL: http://www.music.indiana.edu/som/courses/m401/Gradual.html
This page was created by Patrick Warfield and is maintained by J. Peter Burkholder
Copyright © 1997-2006 by J. Peter Burkholder and Patrick Warfield