I’ve heard that it is wrong to repeat, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to people of good will,” as a kind of a refrain or antiphon. Is this true?

I think “wrong” might be the wrong word. :smiley:

If I understand correctly it is the ideal to sing/chant/speak the words of the Gloria as originally written but it is not actually forbidden to include refrains of “Glory to God…” when the Gloria is sung.

Responsorial Glorias are not “wrong” as in “not allowed” as far as I know, however, I think it is preferable if the congregation sings the entire text. On the other hand, there are situations where responsorial glorias are useful, such as a wedding or funeral where the congregation is small or mostly non-Catholic. Also at Masses like Christmas and Easter when there are lots of visitors to the parish that may not know the musical setting of the Gloria that the congregation uses.

From the USCCB document, Sing to the Lord:

[LEFT][FONT=TimesNewRomanMS]Other Mass parts may also be sung in dialogue or alternation, especially the Gloria, the Creed, and the three processional songs: the Entrance, the Preparation of the Gifts, and Communion. This approach often takes the form of a congregational refrain with verses sung by the choir. Choirs may also enrich congregational singing by adding harmonies and descants.[/LEFT]


This is the part of the above linked document that is in question (I bolded the Gloria):

Choirs (and ensembles—another form of choir that commonly includes a combination
of singers and instrumentalists) exercise their ministry in various ways. An important ministerial
role of the choir or ensemble is to sing various parts of the Mass in dialogue or alternation with
the congregation. Some parts of the Mass that have the character of a litany, such as the Kyrie
and the Agnus Dei, are clearly intended to be sung in this manner. Other Mass parts may also be
sung in dialogue or alternation, especially the Gloria, the Creed, and the three processional
songs: the Entrance, the Preparation of the Gifts, and Communion. This approach often takes the
form of a congregational refrain with verses sung by the choir. Choirs may also enrich
congregational singing by adding harmonies and descants.

The change of the wording of the Gloria was a difficult part of the new textual change of the mass for my parish. We had a Gloria that really got people going, clapping in rhythm with the singing, but the pastor said the bishop was insistent that we change to a new Gloria that we now sing toconform to the new text. In it the line you quoted is lengthened by repetition into the refrain while the rest of the Gloria are the “verses” of the song. We sing it all, but that first line you quote we sing about 4 times as a refrain.

That is the way the Mass of Creation Gloria is. I think a lot of bishops took the opportunity with the new translation to tighten up and eliminate anything that paraphrases.

In my opinion, this is liturgically incorrect. I think that when the GIRM says “or by the people alternately with the choir” it means the choir says the odd lines and the congregation says the even lines, not that the first line is repeated as a refrain between sections.

This is why it is so important to be familiar with how the Mass used to be before the reforms, so that you interpret the Latin word alternatim correctly in the context “vel a populo alternatim cum schola”.


STTL is not authoritative, and really shouldn’t be quoted as such.

Here’s the scoop: the gloria text is given to us in the missal straight through, no refrains, and absolutely no talk of any sort of repetition or refrain anywhere. The Missal simply says that the gloria is to be said/sung.

We are called and bound to pray the texts of the Mass without additions or modifications. Therefore, refrains are out, because they are deviating from the exact text found in the roman missal. It’s that simple.

Let me see, a document written and approved a Bishop’s Council, that states

Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, a revision of Music in Catholic Worship, was developed by the Committee on Divine Worship of the United States Conference of Catholic
Bishops (USCCB). On November 14, 2007, the Latin Church members of the USCCB approved these guidelines. These guidelines are designed to provide direction to those preparing for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the current liturgical books (in the ordinary form of celebration).

is not “authoritative”, but the opinions of Bob/Sue pew sitter are? :confused:

While it may just be “guidelines” I would still consider these opinions with much great weight that I would the opinions of ‘Bob/Sue pew-sitter’.

I quoted it and linked it. The way I quoted it is was by using a standard quote box as per all quotes here. Sigh if you want. It answers the question. I was answering the OP’s question. It is not been said by the Catholic Church that it is wrong to use a Gloria with a refrain. Here is an advisory document that says it is acceptable.

I will wait and see if there is anything with more authority that says a refrain is wrong in as direct language (i.e.,no interpretation or additional conclusion needed).

For those of us that have been through chosing music for this new translation, we will remember that the publishing houses worked with the bishops who to insure that the words were all true to the new translation. Yet the Gloria with the refrain was still allowed. :shrug:

This issue seems clear. It is not wrong. It may not be prudent (though I wouldn’t know why) or it may not be preferred. We all have our own opinions as to what we like.

I will add one more thought, since the question of authority came up. As authority for the liturgy rests with the bishop in his diocese, another way to answer the OP is that a Gloria with a refrain is not wrong is the bishop allows it, and it is wrong if the bishop has said that Gloria is to be sang straight through in his diocese.

Speaking as a Catholic, I understand that slowness to act is not the same as tolerance, and tolerance is not the same as approval.

I do not know how this represents any authority as opposed to personal opinion or preference . :shrug:

Slowness to act? Do you mean absolutely no action? I only ask because the guidelines from the USCCB are the only documentation so far on this thread. I have never seen any Church document that supports this theory that singing the Gloria with the refrain is wrong.

I found this from one bishop:

As a third option, he has given permission to use other approved Mass settings, through other publishers, which include versions of the Gloria both with and without a refrain.

In my own diocese, most of the selections we were sent included a refrain. I can’t link what I received in the mail, of course. I will keep looking in case there is something that contradicts this somewhere, but clearly the Gloria refrain is not wrong in these dioceses, and I suspect in the U.S.

In Canada the three approved Mass settings all have the first line as a refrain, the only through setting we were given was the chant setting which most parishes have opted to ignore. Our choir, which didn’t like the responsorial Gloria, has opted to sing it without the response, so we end up with a through setting in spite of the composer’s vision.

It should be said that while the USCCB’s document is not binding (they opted not to submit it to Rome for approval so it doesn’t get to contradict the GIRM) questions of ‘repetition’ came up more than 100 years ago and Rome said that for artistic purposes repetitions were allowed. That dubium was quoted here before, I’ll see if I can find it.

But were those repetitions like “Gloria Gloria Gloria in Excelis deo” or like our refrained glorias? Those are two different monsters, because one is essentially singing the same text adapted for song, and the other is cutting and moving whole sections of texts and jumping around within the text.

It’s not just my opinion. Find any authoritative document that allows one to move around phrases in the ordinary of the Mass. All you’ll find is documents saying “don’t change the texts!” Same with Agnus Dei tropes. STTL allows it, but there’s absolutely no allowance for such things in authoritative documents. I wonder why they didn’t submit it to Rome…they might have had to remove those things that were important to them, like the allowances to change the texts.

I challenge you to find just one.

According to my pastor after discussions with our Archbishop this is allowed. For me to interpret documents and tell them I know better is diving head first into a battle of authority where I as a lay Catholic have none. This is a case of preference among allowed choices within the authority of the Pastors and Bishops. Stop trying to get your way via extreme document interpretation and making mountains out of mole hills. Ask the local authority and accept the answer, period.

Back then it was a repetition of a word to fit the music, if I remember the example in the question that was asked of Rome back then, but you know what they say 'give them an inch…"

I am a bit confused by the idea that a Gloria with a refrain introduces new words. I see repeated words but I see no new words such as when tropes are used for the Angus Dei.

If you allow for the possibility of repeated words for artistic purposes then a Gloria with a refrain would seem to fit that description. The refrain is simply a phrase from the straight through text that gets repeated at intervals. It’s not as if new words are being invented or existing texts are being reordered.

There has been a long history of Glorias with Goria in excelsis deo interwoven at various points in the composition so this is really nothing new. Now that counter to that argument is that such Glorias were either never intended to be used at Mass or if they were, were not an integral part of the Mass because what counted was spoken inaudibly by priest and servers. But even if this is the case there is still a precedent for repeated phrases for artistic purposes.

Another criticism for Glorias with refrains that I have heard is that the people ought to sing the whole Gloria. While I admit that I see far more people who only sing the refrain when such Glorias are sung, I have never seen a case where some people did not sing.

From Missale Romanum, 3rd ed. (2002), in the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani (a.k.a. General Instruction on the Roman Missal), paragraph 53:

“Inchoatur a sacerdote vel, pro opportunitate, a cantore, aut a schola, cantatur autem vel ab omnibus simul, vel apopulo alternatim cum schola, vel ab ipsa schola. Si non cantatur, recitandum est ab omnibus simul aut a duobus choris sibi invicem respondentibus.”

My personal translation: “It can be started by the priest, or, where appropriate, by the cantor, or by the choir, or sung by everyone together, or by the people alternatingly with the choir, or by the choir. If it’s not sung, it’s recited by everyone together or by two choirs responding to each other.”

Nothing here that resembles Old Negro Spirituals where one person calls out a verse of several lines and the people reply with a single repeated line.

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