Preface to the new edition of the “Missel Vespéral Grégorien” (2010)



            Prot. 451/09/A

Rome, November 18, 2009


It is with great joy that I bless the praiseworthy initiative of the Abbey of Saint Magdalene to present a new edition of the famous Liber usualis [1], the vesperal missal with Gregorian chant, updated for the rubrics of the extraordinary form and provided with all the translations necessary to make the most of the texts. In fact, since the last Vatican Council “recognizes in Gregorian chant the Proper Song of the Roman Liturgy” which “must occupy the first place” (SC 116), it is important that for the “full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations, which is required by the nature of the liturgy itself” (SC 14) the faithful be able to have at their disposal the instruments that will allow them to achieve this goal more effectively.

Thus this edition, already encouraged by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei and other cardinals, not only is in full conformity with the directives of the Church, but also, by proposing the necessary complements so that this same book can also be used in the ordinary form of the one Roman rite, goes further in the direction of the wishes of the Holy Father Benedict XVI, for whom “the two forms of use of the Roman rite can be mutually enriching”, thus contributing to the fact that “in the celebration of the Mass according to the missal of Paul VI, this sacredness, which attracts many people to the ancient rite, is manifested in a stronger way than has often been the case up to now” [2].

It is therefore particularly welcome that the official organism of the Holy See in charge of sacred music, the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae, wanted to share the responsibility and co-publishing of this work, which is so important for the renewal of the liturgy in the present context.

Indeed, the simple fact of celebrating a Mass in Latin and Gregorian is often perceived as retrograde and anti-conciliar; yet, as I have written elsewhere, it is “absolutely necessary to get out of this dialectic.” With the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, “the Pope’s desire was not only […] to limit himself to responding to the just aspirations of the faithful who, for various reasons, feel linked to the liturgical heritage constituted by the Roman rite; it was also, in particular, a matter of opening the Church’s liturgical riches to all the faithful, thus making it possible to discover the treasures of the Church’s liturgical patrimony to those who still lacked knowledge of them” [3].

In this perspective, I gratefully acknowledge the collaboration of the Abbey of Solesmes in this beautiful work by the transfer to the Abbey of Le Barroux of the necessary rights, so that two great abbeys particularly concerned with the beauty of the liturgy in both forms perpetuate together the great tradition of the Benedictine Order.

Wishing this edition of the Liber usualis the widest possible circulation for the good of souls and the promotion of a true liturgical renewal, I call upon all those who will make use of it the graces of choice and the blessing of the thrice-Holy God.

Antonio, Card. Cañizares Llovera,


[1] Editor’s note: The term “Liber usualis” does not refer to a particular edition of the Roman Gregorian Missal, but is intended to be a generic designation, the most widely known in various countries where other designations, such as “the 800”, are not used.

[2] Cf. the letter to the bishops accompanying the Motu proprio Summorum pontificum.

[3] Preface to the Spanish edition of Bishop Nicola Bux’s book, La Riforma di Benedetto XVI.