Stuck on a wonderful Gloria
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    For probably four or five years, I'm embarrassed to admit, we've been singing the same Gloria, the one by K. Poterack, here. We've been wanting a change for two years, even three years. Our plan is do introduce the first Latin Gloria in the parish's modern history, Gloria XV. We've rehearsed it, plottedit, prepared an MP3, discussed the transition every week.

    Then Sunday comes, and it is always the same thing: the old Gloria is wonderful. People love it. We love it. It is contemplative in sad times, bright in happy times, perfectly executed by the schola AND the congregation, and it works magnificently every single time without fail. It is sung together with excellent timing and pitch. At the end of it, we always have a sense of a job well done. It fits the structure. It is dignified and satisfying and creates a great contrast to other options heard at other Masses in this parish. In other words, it is precisely what we want.

    The problem with it is more abstract. It is old. Five years is too long to do any ordinary setting. It is also in English, and people need to learn the Latin, and do real Gregorian chant. But this much we know: not one person will be happy about a change. Not one. I'm not even sure the schola would be happy about a change.

    The reality is that the status quo is wonderful. The abstraction is that change is way overdue.

    So let me ask: what would you do? Is there an obvious answer here that we might be overlooking? I'm genuinely puzzled and even troubled by this dilemma.
  • Rotate "Old Faithful" in and out of seasonal changes. Problem solved.
    And is it really a problem as an abstract, Jeffrey? Five years too long for any one ordinary? How about five centuries? Heck, I've done virtually the same Mass setting at our first Saturday Vigil Mass for 15 years running; guess what? They sing it better and better over the years. (They being the congregation and ministers, no choir present.) As has been mentioned elsewhere, we appreciate that which we've taken beyond the abstract confines of our minds through memories and those things become burned into our hearts, such as a really fine Gloria. We don't need no stinking hymnals (or badges for that matter!)
    But like a fine museum or gallery, our treasures overflow in abundance. Just rotate them to different rooms now and then, but remember to bring them back now and then.
  • Jan
    Posts: 242

    The K. Poterack Gloria is lovely as an english language Gloria. It certainly works with the simple chant structure you use for 'proper' Mass
    settings. Perhaps the latin Gloria setting (as a 'first launch') would depend on the average age and past experience of the congregation.
    In our parish, the Gloria VIII has been sung for Holy Thursday continuously since before Vat 2. We have a parish of about 1500 families with
    fair number of folks age 50 and older. In our area, Ordinary VIII (De angelis) was the norm pre Vat 2.

    When our schola began 3 years ago, we adopted Gloria VIII, Credo III & the Pater Noster as 'no-brainers.' The last thing I would want to
    do is change Gloria VIII when the people really know & sing it! (Unless....hum)

    However I remember Gloria XV from Catholic High School. So, there are probably others who may as well. I really liked singing Gloria XV (pre-Vat 2). Its simple, repetitive but not boring & has that beautiful 'me-sol-la' pattern of mode IV which is so 'haunting.'

    If it were my parish, I would use Gloria VIII for the 'regular' Gloria & eventually add Gloria XV for Advent & Lent. (I think I will actually do that!! Thanks for the idea!)
  • Jan
    Posts: 242
    Sorry all no Gloria(s) in lent & advent (I knew that/ha). Still a great idea to use these two in alternation sometime during the year.
  • john m
    Posts: 136

    I was going to point that out but then figured that you would catch it yourself. :-)

    Yes, i think the answer is to put the various settings in a cycle. Not only does the congregation expand their repertoire that way, but it keeps the settings fresh and provides a way to distinguish the various seasons.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    This is a good idea. I still fear the first week. Thank you!
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    In the ordinary form, the Gloria may be sung by the choir alone. Why not sing a polyphonic setting for a major event, like Easter? Or have the schola chant the Gloria in Latin for Pentecost only. That will at least set a precident that other versions may be sung. Then the following year, have the congregation sing the Gloria for the whole Easter season. They will have had two months of not singing it at all, so the change won't be so sudden.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369
    Its true, the Gloria can be sung by the choir alone. And it would be a splendid thing on a day like Easter! But we've suggested this to the powers that be - last year, the year before...and received a negative response. Seems that many pastors feel that this is a time when more people come to Mass, so the more familiarity, the better. The pastoral perspective often wins out, albeit a perspective lacking in the acknowledgment of beauty as an edifying entity of its own. Oh well. So another approach is needed.

    We took the plunge today and made the suggestion to our pastor - including a well thought out rationale (taking into account pastoral considerations, for example: this is a good time time to have people learn Gloria XV, since they already know the ordinary we're using this Easter season), an mp3, a copy of the music, and a promise to pass out cd's and otherwise teach it to the congregation. Yes, the despised tutorial before Mass! But that's just a reality, and if the end result is that Gloria XV is sung in our parish, then so be it.

    We'll keep you posted...
  • incantuincantu
    Posts: 989
    All the more reason to have the choir sing alone. How can you expect the throngs of people who come to church twice a year to sing, well... anything at all? Isn't the greeting, sign of the cross, psalm, alleluia, response to the readings, preface dialog, Sanctus, memorial acclamation, Amen, Lord's Prayer, Agnus, and dismissal (with alleluia, of course) enough to ask a congregation to sing in one day? Or, let me guess, the priest doesn't sing the sign of the cross or the dismissal. And yet when you suggest the choir sing the Gloria once per year (when later that day at the evening liturgy the folk soloist will sing the entire Mass, or rather throughout the Mass, by himself) you're seen as robbing the assembly of the opportunity to particiate more fully. Good grief.
  • AOZ
    Posts: 369

    To recap, we sent Father the music and an mp3 earlier in the week and waited a couple of days for an answer to the burning question - could we give Gloria XV a go this weekend? His go ahead came in good time for us to get things ready for Mass today. In fact, he agreed to my suggestion that he intone it, even though he was slightly nervous about doing so. He has a good, strong singing voice and quite a presence as a celebrant - of course I knew it would go beautifully if he consented.

    We rehearsed the schola on Thursday evening. The main focus was rhythm and diction- my sense was that our "performance" had to be compelling if we were going to convince the congregation that they should like it, much less sing along. Lacking their attempt at participation, a project like this can go south in no time

    Father surprised us by joining us for warm up this morning. He intoned and then sang along with us as we prepared for Mass. He suggested that our tutorial before Mass should allow for the congregation to sing it through twice. What we've normally done is sing through something once as a demonstration, and then have people sing along. But we took his advice. It's usually very good.

    When it came time, the first thing to do was make sure that everyone had a program - the entire Gloria was printed in it. Gregorian notation. (We had to use legal size paper this week. The funny result of this, after taking so much care with the program, was that the Gloria took up so much space that the last line of the Sanctus was inadvertently omitted! )

    We sang it once. A few people joined in. We sang it again. A few more. Mass began. The Greeting. The Vidi Aquam - and then - the Gloria! Jeff reached over and played the first notes for Father to give him confidence. Father took the cue and sang beautifully. Then came the moment of truth: and people sang! they really sang!

    In many ways it seemed like a miracle. And it was . But I can't deny, as well, that it was also the result of years of taking baby steps, careful planning, and of course many mistakes from which we have learned so much. One thing we have learned, and today's Mass showed us yet again, is that people do what they are asked to do in Mass. The actions of the celebrant have so much to do with the success of a beautiful liturgy.

    One woman came up to a member of our schola after Mass and said how much she liked the Gloria. She said she sang, and that even her husband, who never sings, sang. Why? Again, maybe because of the leadership of a strong celebrant. Maybe it was because of our convincing "perfomance." Maybe because of the tutorial before Mass. But I suspect it was because that Gloria XV, sung along with the angels, taps into the eternal so longed for by everyone who comes to Mass.

    Deo Gratias.
  • neib12
    Posts: 1
    Hi everyone!

    I'm brand new, so forgive any repetition of past postings.....

    I've moved from a musically sophisticated parish that supported my explorations of music from Perotin to Adams, etc., to one clinging to 1970s/80s music and mass settings. It's been eight months, and I'm moving them along SLOWLY. Tomorrow we introduce at the "Traditional Mass" chants for the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei -- a tradition they abandoned about 15 years ago. My suspicion is that they'll be pretty happy, eventually, and I also suspect they'll sing once they recognize these chants of their "youth." This will be just cantor and organ -- the choir is on hiaitus until June.

    I see the suggestion of the Poterack Gloria..... any others? I think to try and have them sing the Gloria chant right off the bat will cause a revolt. I want the congregation to get used to chant on the shorter Mass parts first!

    Thank you!
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    We have two English Glorias on Cecilia. Both are solid

    1 and 2
  • Mark M.Mark M.
    Posts: 632
    I'm just encouraged to hear that your parish really loves the Poterack Gloria. I introduced it fairly recently it in my parish, and so far, it seems like I'm the only one singing it.
  • Jeffrey TuckerJeffrey Tucker
    Posts: 3,624
    Well, maybe it will take time to get used to plainsong. There is such a difference between chant rhythm and the four-square stuff that pass for liturgical music today. However, in time, it will happen. Our own parish got so stuck on this that I thought we could never go beyond it.