The “Passionale” books for Holy Week

Here in the Diocese of the Extraordinary Ordinary, we are getting ready for a solemn Palm Sunday and Triduum. There are many details to work out ahead of time so that the rites can run smoothly and prayerfully. Happily, I have the best crew anywhere! They will perform expertly.

Among those tasks on my To Do List is the extraction of my pre-Conciliar Passionale which is in 3 parts: Chronista (the “narrator” who handles all the text that is not of a person speaking), Christus (who sings only the words of Christ), and Synagoga (who sings all words spoken by anyone not Christ) The duties of the Synagoga are sometimes divided between a single singer in the sanctuary, who takes the words spoken by one person, and a choir which sings the words spoken by crowd, called the Turba, sometimes in polyphonic settings.

Here are my books, which pre-date the 1955 chances to Holy Week.  They therefore have the Chronista’s haunting ad libitum Passion tone for the part of the Gospel that the reformers in 1955 (Bugnini et al.) denied us.  I fully intend to do it anyway.

Each volume has the chant notation only for the part that that person is to sing.  Handy.

Here is the first page of the Passion of St. Matthew, sung on Palm Sunday.

Here is page from Christus.  You can see that the Chronista has text without notation.

From the Synagoga book.  He has a lot less to do.  His parts are marked with S., but the Turba is SS.

Some years ago, as a service to priests and deacons preparing to sing the Passion, I recorded the Passion of Matthew and of John.  They are at my PRAYERCAzT page.  Matthew is HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    Just some shameless advertising on this same topic. For those interested in the chants of the four Passions according to the Dominican tone (quite different from the Roman), can order copies here:

    This attractive book has the texts as specified in the Dominican reform of Holy Week of 1951.

  2. Del Sydebothom says:

    Does anyone still print these books, or must they be bought vintage?

  3. Henry Edwards says:

    PDF copies of the three Cantus Passionis volumes can be downloaded free from

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  4. padredana says:

    Is such a thing available in the vernacular for the Novus Ordo?

  5. PatriciusOenus says:

    “I fully intend to do it anyway.”


  6. Phil says:

    Last I checked OCP had vernacular chant booklets for the Passion based on the Gregorian melody. $45 per volume as I recall. I don’t know if they still make them.

  7. Gregory DiPippo says:

    Optime Pater,
    The new edition of the Passion books printed after the 1955 reform (I believe there was only one ever done, by Pustet) did not include the special tone for the Gospel at the end, but no decree of suppression was ever issued, nor did anything in the 1955 version or subsequent rubrical clarifications mandate that it not be used. The Allegri Miserere, on the other hand…

  8. wolfeken says:

    Best wishes to all of the deacons (including priests, vesting as deacons) singing these three parts next week. They are not easy — but so worth the time and effort. The laity appreciates you!

  9. Henry Edwards: Thank you!

    Father Z, I love it that you will be sticking your thumb in Bugnini’s eye! Good for you! I wish that I could join and hear the Chronista’s haunting ad libitum Passion tone. I love these posts; I have to avoid news about Falcons and “Frenchmen” because an involuntary uneasiness comes over me, and as yet I have been able to avoid sinning by giving voice the the irascibility.

    Best wishes and prayers that you and your crew (including Bishop Morlino) have a grace-filled Passiontide and Triduum.

  10. jbpolhamus says:

    Personally I have no desire to continue with the 1962 Holy Week, it being such a botched job. Tenebraes messed about, the masses displaced, and the pathetic reality that the 1970 rite makes fuller prosivion for prophetic readings at the Easter Vigil than the paucity of 1962, is simply too defeating. When someone is ready to do pre-’55 in my part of the world, I’ll be there. Until they get serious, even a Novus Ordo Latin ad Orientem triduum would be (and has been) more satisfying.

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