Graduale or gradale) is used of a service book or antiphonal of the Roman Catholic Church containing certain antiphons, called "graduals," sung at the service of the Mass after the reading or singing of the Epistle.
During the distribution antiphons are sung.
Gradually there were added to these psalter choir-books additions in the form of antiphons, responses, collects or short prayers, for the use of those not skilful at improvisation and metrical compositions.
This was mainly carried out by the adoption of a rule that all antiphons and responses should be in the exact words of Scripture, which, of course, cut out the whole class of appeals to created beings.
This is the very backbone of the Breviary, the groundwork of the Catholic prayer-book; out of it have grown the antiphons, responsories and versicles.
The Commune Sanctorum comprises psalms, antiphons, lessons, &c., for feasts of various groups or classes (twelve in all); e.g.
They are: psalms (including canticles), antiphons, responsories, hymns, lessons, little chapters, versicles and collects.
The antiphons are short liturgical forms, sometimes of biblical, sometimes of patristic origin, used to introduce a psalm, The term originally signified a chant by alternate choirs, but has quite lost this meaning in the Breviary.
The responsories are similar in form to the antiphons, but come at the end of the psalm, being originally the reply of the choir or congregation to the precentor who recited the psalm.
In it the Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Deus in Adjutorium, &c., are followed by five psalms and five antiphons, after which come the "little chapter," the hymn and the verse, which vary according to the season, the Magnificat and its antiphon, and the appropriate collect.