What’s up with the chant notation for singing prayers in the new Missal?

This is from my friend Jeffrey Tucker’s The Chant Cafe

Last February (it seems like years ago), InsideCatholic ran my article called Pay to Pray: The Church’s Simony Problem. Based on years of thought and research, I took aim at the practice of using civil law to maintain legal exclusivity to liturgical texts and charge for their use. It works like a tax for evangelization. The practice not only contradicts Christian experience and ethics, I argued; it might be classified as a form of simony.

A primary example concerns the secret dealings over the Revised Grail Psalter. Relatively few people have actually seen this book; it has not been published. But if it so happened to land in my hands and I posted it on this blog, I would be hearing from the GIA – the agent that manages international rights on this book – in about 20 minutes. If I didn’t take it down, I would hear from lawyers. If I didn’t respond after that, I would probably face a DMCA attack from the government. Regardless of the merits of the book, I find it deeply regrettable that the U.S. Bishops seemed to have embraced it for liturgical use.

I’ve written many articles on this entire topic, but I’ve dropped the topic recently because it would appear that the Grail will not be introduced for the Responsorial Psalm text in the Roman Rite anytime within the next decade.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday, composer Paul Innwood, notes in a comment box that the Leaked Missal, or what is being called the Moroney Missal, seems to have relied on the Revised Grail for the re-rendering of the approved Missal proper texts submitted to Rome. To what extent we cannot know because we do not have a copy of the Revised Grail; it has not yet leaked. Thanks to other internet leaks, however, we do have a copy of the Gray Book submitted by the conferences and the leaked Missal, with its legendary 10,000 plus changes, from the CDW, and it is clear that the texts of the propers are very different. I had assumed that it was some committee doing what committees do, which is mostly make a mess of things, but perhaps there was a purpose for the changes after all.

In other words, the Revised Grail seems to have made an early appearance in the newly translated Missal, the one we will be using one year from now. What this implies about royalties, copyrights, permissions, or other dealings between interested parties is pure speculation at this point. But we can be sure that such speculations are going to be rampant in the coming weeks, and the search for more evidence will continue.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rob in Maine says:

    I listen to the Verbum Domini podcast for my daily readings. Several years ago Verbum was issued a cease and desist order from the USCCB for using copyrighted material; i.e. the New American Bible.

    Some time later the USCCB came out with their own scripture podcast – all earnest and breathy and with background music, if I recall. Verbum Domini started podcasting the Douay Rheims and I’ve stayed with them.

    I remember at the time that Brian Noe, the man who began Verbum Domini, asked the listeners not to contact the USCCB as it would make things worse. All I could think of at the time was how sad it was.

  2. RichR says:

    I just wish the Latin forms of these books weren’t so expensive. To buy a new copy of the LotH from Paxbook is almost $100 per volume (and that’s the “economical” vinyl edition…the leather one is twice that). Our schola bought a 2002 altar missal at a tune of $400. You have few alternatives to the approved English version.

  3. lofstrr says:

    Sounds like a good enough reason all by itself to not have any hymns so contemporary that they are covered by copyright. Public domain hymns only. I have no problem with the church supporting artists directly, patronage has a long tradition, but she should not be held to paying royalties on an ongoing basis.

  4. traditionalorganist says:

    lofstrr, I agree about patronage. It is a tradition that has unfortunately expired with the advent of…bad music.

  5. Geoffrey says:

    The New Grail Psalms were officially published about a year ago in the African edition of the Liturgy of the Hours.

  6. Jakub says:

    Here is the link for the LOTH in Africa…


  7. Legisperitus says:

    I’ve often wondered whether there is a conflict between copyright law and natural law, particularly when it comes to liturgical matters. But in the case of the NAB it’s probably a good thing if its use is restricted as much as possible.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    It is interesting to note that the new Liturgy of the Hours for the Church in Africa (which I use because of the revised psalter and new saints) uses “The African Bible”, which is actually “The New American Bible” in British/continental English. I have heard that the NAB is going to undergo a re-edit in light of “Liturgiam authenticam”, just as the Revised Standard Version of the Bible did. It would be nice if all English-speaking Catholics could use ONE translation/edition of Sacred Scripture in the liturgy, but I won’t hold my breath…

  9. Here’s an idea: let’s go back to Latin. Then everyone will be on the same page.

  10. Jakub says:

    “It would be nice if all English-speaking Catholics could use ONE translation/edition of Sacred Scripture in the liturgy” – I doubt it will happen, it’s a logical thought…it makes sense

  11. boko fittleworth says:

    Maybe someone can put the Revised Grail Psalter up on wikileaks.

  12. Jakub says:

    Geoffrey, since you have the African Edition of the LOTH, how does Psalm 23 read ?


  13. Geoffrey says:

    Psalm 23 (22)

    1 The LÓRD is my shépherd; *
    there is nóthing I shall wánt.
    2 Frésh and gréen are the pástures *
    where he gíves me repóse.
    Near réstful wáters he léads me; *
    3 he revíves my sóul.

    He guídes me alóng the right páth, *
    for the sáke of his náme.
    4 Though I should wálk in the válley of the shádow
    of déath, †
    no évil would I féar, for you are wíth me. *
    Your cróok and your stáff will give me cómfort.

    5 You have prepáred a táble befóre me *
    in the síght of my fóes.
    My héad you have anóinted with óil; *
    my cúp is overflówing.

    6 Surely góodness and mércy shall fóllow me *
    all the dáys of my lífe.
    In the LÓRD’S own hóuse shall I dwéll *
    for léngth of days unénding.

  14. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Two thoughts:
    1) Douay is out of copyright, and enables us to encounter the mystery of God.
    2) Latin is always a good idea.

    At the risk of shameless self-promotion, if anyone is interested in having copies of settings of the psalms which I prepared before I found the Extraordinary form, let me know; I have also some polyphony which needs a home. Similarly, let me put in a plug for the work of CanticaNOVA, whose motto is “Traditional Music for the Contemporary Church”.

  15. anilwang says:

    Yes. There’s a conflict between copyright law and natural law, but there’s also a conflict between trademarks, trade secrets, patents, and even plagiarism laws and natural law. All these concepts govern the restriction of ideas using arbitrary criteria. But ideas are not physical, so they can’t be constrained the way physical objects can (i.e. you can lock up your car but you can’t lock up the idea of a car). As a result, you either have to (1) use physical means (sometimes fairly draconian physical means) to get people to follow the arbitrary rules, or (2) trust in the charity of people to reward people who have good ideas, or (3) the creators of ideas have to horde their ideas until someone pays them for them and accept that their ideas are out of their control after that point, (4) the community of people who value something compiles ideas together and provides quality assurance.

    Today’s economy is based off of these arbitrary restrictions, and I don’t see the old precopyright “patron paying for artists to produce works for the common good” coming back any time soon even though it is more in line with natural law, so it’ll be interesting how this ultimately plays out in this increasingly knowledge based economy. If (1) wins out completely, we risk losing the right to read when content creators don’t think it’s convenient for us to read, If (2) wins out, we’d better have a good personal morality in place. If (3) wins out, we’re back to the patron situation. If (4) wins out, we’d better have a good community morality in place.

    As for this case, if things don’t change, given that there aren’t that many choices, Catholics will likely use the web for private devotions (most Catholic Bibles are freely available) so it won’t affect them. Many will take copies in violation of copyright since they either don’t know the situation (most wouldn’t imagine that it was even possible) and since there is no natural law, they might never be aware unless told.

  16. Stvsmith2009 says:

    I did not find out about Verbum Domini not being allowed to use the NAB until about 6 months ago. So, in order to avoid any problems, I began posting the Daily Mass Readings (http://faithofthefathersreadings.blogspot.com/) exclusively from the Douay-Rheims Bible since it is public domain. I get a lot of readers for the readings from non-english speaking countries (Portugal, Spain, UAE, etc.), and I wonder how well they translate. I think it unforgivable that a copyright would be enforced on Holy Scripture.

  17. cmm says:

    boko fittleworth wrote “Maybe someone can put the Revised Grail Psalter up on wikileaks.”
    Apparently, all you had to do was ask, and it pops up right away!

  18. Jerry says:

    @Anita Moore – “Here’s an idea: let’s go back to Latin. Then everyone will be on the same page.”

    What good does it do for everyone to be on the same page if 95% of them can’t understand what’s written on it?

  19. Supertradmum says:

    I knew about this last year in Advent, at the monastery where one of my best friend’s son was living as some of the monks were working on this very project. The monks were referring to the Revised Grail Psalter as a done deal, and as already approved. I did not bother to ask for a copy or a preview, but I knew one monk had those in hand and told me about them when I visited him. He told me the renderings were more “up to date” and some were practiced by the monks already,as a trial. The casual references made me believe that these were approved, at least by the powers that be, in America and in some countries where English is the spoken language. No other details…

  20. Geoffrey says:

    I have heard that the Revised Grail Psalms have been approved for the Divine Office, as the African edition proves. I also recall hearing that the Holy See wanted this psalter to be utilized in the Responsorial Psalms at OF Masses in English… I am not sure which body will handle the editing of that, though… ICEL? Bishop’s conferences?

  21. Sid says:

    I use the African translation of LOTH. The New Grail is so much better. And the Latin LOTH is followed in the bidding prayers and the Sunday antiphons.

    The Douay is quite outdated for a accurate translation of the Greek and Hebrew. I wonder if even the King Jimmy is better.

  22. boko fittleworth says:

    Thanks cmm! I suspected it might be available, but that site is blocked at work. (Maybe the US government should look into that.) I hear the NeoCats secret rules are available at wikileaks, also. I’ll have to look around there sometime.

  23. Jakub says:

    Thank you Geoffrey, indeed this revision is a vast improvement !

  24. Dave N. says:

    How GIA ended up with the exclusive copyright to the Revised Grail Psalter would, I’m sure, make for an interesting story. I’m also a little skeptical about the revision itself–the snippet published in the Adoremus Bulletin a few months ago showed signs of “inclusivization.” I’ve never much cared for “fresh and green” either (see above)–not at all close to the Hebrew text.

    On a somewhat related note, last summer the USCCB apparently decided to stiff the CBA on royalties for the NAB:


    (If the bishops don’t want to pay, maybe they should stop using it–fine by me.) I’m betting this will end up in civil court at some point.

  25. geoff jones says:

    GOD SPARE US from the Grail!!!

    The latest edition of the grail is going to have to be far, far superior the rubbish in the current missal.

    The NAB (or Jerusalem in Australia) I can handle. The Grail is just plain awful.


    I’ll have to wait and see what gets served up, but I might be on the verge of giving up hope for the Novus Ordo.

  26. Melody says:

    Paul Innwood?! That name makes me much more distressed.

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