Summer Glory

I don’t get around much anymore. That’s been mostly true since this day in 1988 when I loaded up my new car with my possessions (they all fit in a single car back then) and headed for my first adventure in full-time ministry in the suburbs of Chicago.

I find it interesting to review a discussion like this one lamenting the insertion of a repeatable antiphon into the Gloria. It hasn’t been my experience to ever introduce such a piece in thirty years of music ministry. I have inherited them upon arrival. In each of those instances, the assembly has sung the verses with gusto. I don’t find the practice particularly bothersome. As with other similar “contentious” points in the Catholic liturgy, probably the only thing done more often than singing the responsorial Gloria is criticizing it.

At the link, frequent commenter Liam mentions the laudable practice of using an antiphon to introduce this new Mass part quickly while giving the people an opportunity for familiarity and memory–learning on the go, as it were. Something needed when all the people aren’t in a captive audience for an extended period of time outside of Mass–like in a school or monastery.

As for the question of when they begun, I checked my reference copy of the Hymnal for Young Christians, volume one (1968). Every setting of the Glory to God is through-sung and they all include an intonation phrase for the priest. My library is far from complete, but volume three of the same series (1972) has no Mass parts at all.

My first remembered experiences singing a responsorial Gloria are two–from around 1980. I recall the first St Louis Jesuit Gloria from my college days. There seems to be no YouTube recording of it, even on the pages that have amassed other compositions from the collection Neither Silver Nor Gold. The collection was published in 1974. The sheet music has a copyright date of 1973 (if memory serves). But given the SLJ’s commitment to beta-test their compositions in liturgy, was probably composed earlier than that. Peloquin’s Gloria of the Bells (1972) is rendered here (at about the one-minute mark) in possibly the best “live” rendition I’ve encountered. (How about that tempo? Couldn’t recite it much faster unless you were deep into hip-hop.)

The point of all of these settings was to get the assembly to sing as part of a dialogue, and remove the Gloria from the realm of choral concertizing. Choir/congregation dialogue is an established part of the GIRM. It’s hardly any more bothersome to repeat a text in Mass music than it is to add repeats in polyphony. My suspicion is that complaints here are more about musical genre and liturgical philosophy than anything else.

A side note in the discussion there and elsewhere seems to be the notion of “saving time.” I’ve never thought that time needed to be rescued from music–more the reverse really. Summer Sundays are no less important than those in non-purple any other season of the year.

My sense is that clergy are still largely in control of what gets sung at Mass. I had a friend who served as an associate pastor with me for a few years. He chafed under the boss. But he mostly simmered in silence–he wanted to be more of a straight arrow in terms of following rubrics. He didn’t like that we omitted the Gloria on green Sundays. What he didn’t know is that I was given direction on that; I argued against, and my proposal to sing the Gloria every Sunday was turned down. When the AP directed some of his simmer toward me, the best I could do was shrug and suggest that if he wanted to make a more persuasive case, he could have come to me and together we might have made a difference. I found it illustrative of what happens when discontent gets buried in one’s biases.

My current parish sings the two through-sung “Renewal” settings. (This one and the Gokelman/Kauffman composition.) Two seems enough for a parish, though if I found a third that was as excellent, I might consider it. We do have a responsorial structure for the Spanish-language Mass for which I recently inherited the director spot. As I familiarize myself with repertoire, there might be a few proposals to bring to the choir–we’ll see.

As for the image up top, James Tissot on Luke 2:8-14. Given that the evangelist gave the details, apparently the shepherds felt free to repeat that refrain.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to Summer Glory

  1. Liam says:

    My current parish also uses the Mass of Renewal Gloria as part of its seasonal rotation – as contemporary settings go, it’s one of the better ones, and has the side benefit of music (for those who care about music supporting and illuminating text) that renders the first section syntactically intelligible if you’re paying attention.

    Currently, we’re using the English chant setting from the Missal (if past as prologue, we will switch to MoC come Labor Day weekend), presumably so that such setting stays within the congregation’s memory. It’s sung a cappella (a good choice in our resonant nave filled with congregants), and our wonderful DM penned what might be called a pentatonic descant for the upper voices of the choir for the final section, which adds a suitable texture. I find that the congregation is singing more and more of it as we’ve done it in successive weeks; for all of what might be called its homely duckling melody, the limited motifs mean that the PIPs can more quickly take it up on their own (provided someone intones at a reasonable pitch and keeps it movin’ along; not too difficult if one is mindful in leading song), which is a good model to remember.

  2. Liam says:

    PS: in my family’s former parish (out of which our parish was carved in the Baby Boom, and to which I walked, biked or then drove in my teen and college years when home), which was a Benedictine foundation with a small German Romanesque church where the Benedictines established a well-regarded boys’ choir in the 1950s (Liturgical Movement and all that; it became well known in the years when it was directed by Árpád Darázs, using the Kodály method if memory serves) and a very high degree of congregational participation in music along with ample choral parts, the Peloquin Gloria was done at just slightly slower tempo in the 1970s…. The wonderful organ had a double rank of copper trumpets en chamade over the rear of the congregation – and zimbelstern bells in the middle of them that were used for that Gloria.

  3. Liam says:

    PPS: Other than as training wheels, it’s been an infrequent setting of the Gloria where the employment of a refrain has enhanced the setting’s inherent musicality* – and as matter of textual form, it’s a hymn without refrain (that’s an observation about textual form, not liceity). That said, when liturgy folk complain about opening rites being too long (it’s been a thing over the years), they undermine themselves if they don’t openly embrace the reality that a refrain lengthens said rites. (That’s more of an observation about the credibility of the complaint by them, not about the Gloria.)

    * By contrast example, if I never have to hear the awful refrain to the so-nicknamed My Little Pony Gloria, I will have to go to my special place less often. It’s prevalent in one parish near where I live, though the PIPs don’t sing it that much….

    • Todd says:

      I think the “too long” and the “refrain” arguments originate from two different constituencies, possibly neither of which are progressive, liturgical, or conciliar.

      • Liam says:

        A refrain based Gloria used during the sprinkling rite (instead of the texts appointed for the sprinkling rite) is something I long encountered in progressive liturgical communities for the reasons I described.

  4. Todd says:

    Yes, but you are an East Coaster. And there’s the strain of Irish pragmatism about. Pragmatism and liturgical progressiveness are nearly always mutually exclusive. Most silly ideas I’ve encountered thought to be “progressive” are usually furthered by people who are unschooled in liturgy.

    • Liam says:

      Except that it’s not something I’ve ever encountered outside a progressive liturgical community. If progressive by definition excludes all bad notions current in progressive circles, then you’ve just developed a rationalizing tautology.

      • Todd says:

        I wouldn’t say that progressive liturgists never make mistakes. But to be clear, while it’s a practice I’ve encountered, it’s not one I would endorse, nor have I ever found a trained liturgist who would endorse it. I think a progressive priest or layperson might suggest it, but I would question if their open-mindedness (or whatever) has actually extended into liturgy. Non-traditional communities can do poor liturgy. Like that PrayTell discussion on art suggests, it is possible to have a work of art that is decidedly non-traditional. An artist’s work might be objectively artistic by definition, yet not received. A community might receive a non-traditional work, yet the work might lack any semblance of attributes of good art.

      • Liam says:

        I can accept that reformulation. In real liturgically pragmatic parishes, the sprinkling rite essentially only appears for Easter Sunday, if even then. But in progressive climes, there’s a sticky “the opening rites ought not to be overly labored” notion, which as best I can tell originates from bien pensant liturgy courses and/or conferences, that’s made it’s way into the water with this ritual twist as This Is How We Do Things (or a new pastor who wants to import This Is How I Did Things into his latest parish).

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