The Armchair Liturgist: Pandemic Gloria

Looking to a return to Mass in public, we are getting the first guidance for parish worship from our bishops in Washington state. I dreamed last night that people in the hundreds crashed our “private” livestream recording. It was tense. What that says about my anticipation or nervousness about a first step back to “normal,” I have no idea.

One proposal afoot in the next phase of public worship involves the Glory To God. “Spoken” is emphasized in one report shared with me. Frankly, in a good musical parish, I don’t see how. Since the new Roman Missal, I haven’t been to a Mass that had anything other than a sung Gloria. None of my parishioners have any experience reciting the hymn. I know I couldn’t do it without humming along.

One other bit of advice for parishes with the lone cantor and accompanist was to select musical settings unknown to the assembly so they wouldn’t be tempted to sing along. I suppose it’s affirming we’ve done such a good job with congregational singing that our bishops and medical advisors are actually scared of it.

So, sit in the liturgist chair and render judgment. I’ve also added a line for omission. People seem concerned about the length of Mass. And given the lack of missals and hymnals, nobody’s going to have the words anyway.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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10 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Pandemic Gloria

  1. fraustinfleming says:

    Omit the Gloria until it can be sung.

  2. Karl W Saur says:

    Even in parishes where the Gloria is sung on Sundays, it seems it’s not typically sung on daily Mass on weekday feasts/solemnities (that are not HDOO with musicians) and so is recited; and for places where music ministry goes on summer hiatus (probably more common in older churches with hot summers and no air-conditioning than in churches in more clement climates or more recently built/renovated churches enjoying the privilege of better HVAC), reciting would be typical on Sundays in the summer. Would feel far weirder to omit on Sundays outside of Lent/Advent than to recite in the absence of music. And omitting is not a licit option, which while I realize may not be dispositive it is not irrelevant.

    • Todd says:

      I think your experience may be consonant with the East, not exactly the most with-it section of the Church when it comes to liturgy. I can’t remember the last time I experienced a spoken Gloria–it might have been in the 90s. Nobody in either of my parishes has recited the new translation, even on holy days, when we have music at all Masses.

      I’ve also been seeing a lot of illicit proposals floated for reopening: no Communion during the rite, no cup for the deacon, to name two this weekend. Some of them I understand. Some of them are well-intentioned, but not well thought-out. It actually makes sense to me that we would decline to use the Gloria as long as we are in some mode of lament, green vestments notwithstanding.

      • Liam says:


        I totally get your consistently-over-the-years expressed view of the “East” as an essentially irrelevant, antedeluvian liturgical backwater of the Catholic Church in the US that would best be ignored if not abjured outright. (I do get around, and travel elsewhere, and have people in my circle of friends in divers places with whom I can compare notes, as it were.) I provided context that was not limited to the “East” but might mean you’d not be expected to have shared it.

        And, yes. there are illicit proposals running around there. Floating yet more of them will encourage more of that. Be careful what you ask for.

        You are the one asking for feedback here. Given and stands.

  3. Martin Barry says:

    These are unusual times, we have to do unusual things. If we’re not singing (as I believe we will be unable to do for quite some time yet), I’d rather make the Gloria into a communal recitation rather than a solo performance. No question of omitting it. (In the UK context, where music is substandard in perhaps the majority of parishes, a spoken Gloria is nothing unusual.)

  4. Todd says:

    I have transgressed with my comment about the East: I recognize that. I was reared in the East, and I confess I have a dim view of the liturgical minimialism I experienced in my own supposedly-progressive diocese as well as my own travels in other parts of the country.

    Ministry of music, as I’ve understood it through the years, involves a commitment to more than just doing the red with the black texts. I think I’ve been a deeper critic of that statement as well. If parishes were bursting at the seams with Sunday worshipers, I’d say that perhaps my position is somewhat overblown. But we all know the Roman Church is in open decline and liturgy is on the hot seat for some of it.

    In my opinion and experience every Sunday and Holy Day Mass, as well as every sacramental celebration from baptisms to funerals, must be open to the fullest artistic sense of the Church’s liturgical and musical heritage–styled on high Masses, if you will, or working earnestly toward that goal.

    Sure, it is arrogant of me to say neither of my MR3 parishes has ever spoken a Gloria on a Sunday or holy day. And I will certainly abide by my bishops’ directives in my pandemic service. This warning is well taken, however:

    “And, yes. there are illicit proposals running around there. Floating yet more of them will encourage more of that. Be careful what you ask for.”

    I hope it doesn’t come back to bite the pastors suggesting them, even if they do have the power to enact them.

    • Liam says:

      But Todd, you’ve twice utterly ignored what I mentioned – the spoken Gloria on weekday non-HDOO solemnities and feast days.

      And of course there’s a whole host of weird crap that clerics in the sanctuary do that’s not licit, and a fair bit of it in the form of inserting their personal devotionalism or some RotR things in addition to other things. Whether things bite is one thing: the other is *when*. Prelates, clerics and ministers are all transient, they come and go, the assembly that is transient over a much longer period of time just gets to mop up messes afterwards. My presumptive (but not dispositive) attitude about rules is: if one thinks one it’s not important enough to follow, it’s often not important enough to break chronically, either.

      • Todd says:

        Perhaps less ignored than just bypassed for now. I was speaking to *my* experience on never hearing a spoken Gloria. People still scramble for the Creed, I observe, nine years later. Sunday worshipers who routinely sing are not accustomed to paging through a book for a text after the Penitential Act. It’s a point of formation that has simply never been touched upon–admittedly, only in my experience and those parishioners I serve.

        I do get called in to do non-obligatory feasts that don’t bump a green Sunday. Certainly when in a school or retreat or some special setting a Gloria gets sung on a feast.

        I observe that my bishop has instructed the total omission of the Rite of Peace, so he does indeed take, and probably has the authority to institute or declare an option for an omitted Gloria.

        I do appreciate the challenge and correction here. But I observe my experience mostly in the Midwest, varies greatly from other parts of the US, and certainly including the Pac NW where I am now.

      • Karl W Saur says:

        Has your bishop actually proscribed the presiding priest from saying: “The peace of the Lord be with you always”?? If not, what’s proscribed is the *invitation to share* the pax, as well as (I assume) a proscription against physical sharing of the pax, as it were, rather than a total omission of the rite, instead just reduced to its ritual stump (not of Jesse), though I get that this gets referred to breezily as “omitting the rite of peace”. Our ordinary is at least providing the stump, and that seems to be typical in online Masses I’ve sampled, fwiw.

        The pew cards with the RM3 PIP parts (where present still) are much less relied upon in these parts than they used to be. It took about ~five years for that reliance to ebb to a notably minority practice. The daily Mass goers always had an advantage in serving as a core of Sunday Mass goers in that regard; because I was going to more daily Masses in 2012 before returning to full in-office work, I got to observe that the daily Mass goers picked up many of the changes to heart in a few months (but with a longer lag with the Gloria and Creed, being less frequent in weekday Masses). If there were music at these Masses, it was entirely a cappella at the invitation of the presiding priest; the music ministry on weekdays being more devoted to funerals.

  5. Todd says:

    Today’s webinar informed us we will proceed straight from the Lord’s Prayer to the Fraction Rite. I accept that a bishop can do this. I have no intention of doing a fact-check or gotcha! on that. It is more likely our elderly clergy won’t always catch that. In fact, one jumped straight from the Amen to “This Is The Lamb of God …” at one Mass.

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