Jimmy Mac alerted me to the posting of Jeff Ostrowski’s Gloria on the America blog.
It’s a misconception that you have to produce a piece of music exactly the way it’s been recorded. I always look at the melody of a liturgical piece. Will people sing it? Will they sing it without accompaniment–you’d be surprised how many non-chant pieces get sung really well without a piano, organ, or guitar. That’s usually my biggest test on a piece of music–will people at daily Mass sing it, bringing their own abilities and enthusiasm to the words?
Accompanied liturgical music operates on levels plainsong doesn’t. Sure, chant produces nice overtones in a live acoustic space. But any music will do that.
Aware that the Church lauds the human voice and the tradition of singing above any other instrument, I have to stick up for the instruments. People utilize wood and metal in the same way they produce sound from vocal cords and the empty spaces in their heads. Did God not create trees with their wood? The iron and carbon and copper and tin that make bronze and steel? Plants and metals cannot praise God on their own, but crying stones aside, there is no dishonor in using things made by God and fashioned by human hands to augment the praise of the Creator.
Getting back to the Gloria in question: yes, the organ registration is unoriginal. I’d prefer an a cappella rendering in a live space for a recording. If I bring this Gloria to the parish’s music committee, and they accepted it, we would need to see it accompanied by piano and ensembles as well as organ. I wouldn’t see a problem encouraging an organist to get a little creative with the registration either.
I can’t agree with Jimmy on his assessment, though. (Sorry, my friend.) I sang through some of it, and I think it has great promise.