new mass settings

There are a number of new mass settings that have been published with the new translation of the mass.Why do some of these mass settings have refrains in the Gloria? For example, the Mass of Joy and Peace by Tony Alonso and there are others. Shouldn’t the Gloria be sung straight through just as we would recite it straight through. There is no refrain in the Latin text and there is no refrain in the English text. Why do music composers do this? What does the Catholic Church say about the use of refrains in the Gloria?

I don’t have documents to cite at the moment, but the reason for a refrain style Gloria is more of a practical nature. It is much easier for the congregation to latch on to a refrain then an entire through composed setting. Over time, one may phase out this style in favor of a through composed setting, but the refrain makes it easier to learn, especially in times such as these when the parish is establishing a new repitouire of music.

What you are refering to is a responsorial Gloria and it is allowed. The biggest problem I can see with a responsorial Gloria is when it is used in a way that discourages the congregation from singing the whole text. (ie. the cantor or choir only sings the “verses”) This is not preferable for regular Sunday Mass but there are several occasions when it is appropriate and beneficial to use a responsorial Gloria. For example, when the congregation is trying to learn a new translation of the Mass that is different than the one they’ve sung for their whole lives. Also, in cases where there are likely to be alot of visitors who are from other parishes or not Catholic at all. (Weddings, Christmas, Easter) Basically, the responsorial takes the place of omiting the Gloria or not singing it at all.

Because it will supposedly increase congregational participation, according to the publishers.

There have always been “Responsorial Gloria” settings. A nearby Italian church even sings the refrain in Latin!

they can, but never are…


And in my experience, it certainly does. When the new translation came in, we used the responsorial Gloria that I think is called the Lourdes Gloria? And that certainly had the whole congregation joining in for the response, and attempting verses, until we were all more familiar with the new version of the Gloria. We’ve been learning a non-responsorial Gloria for months and months now, and the congregation still peters out long before the end. Once people have lost it in a text that long, they often give up: responses and verses give them a chance to come back in.

Ultimately, it really doesn’t matter. Both are completely licit options. it should be noted that phasing to a through composed Gloria in most cases would be rather difficult as most composers simply do not provide a through composed Gloria option. As a result, if they wished to learn a through composed Gloria, they would have to learn an entirely new setting. This is not always the case though, and one would be surprised with who gives the through-composed option and who does not.

It’s probably that half-English, half-Latin one that I’ve heard many times around Christmas.

It is not my favorite type of setting, but it is not materially different from the many polyphonic settings of the Latin Mass where the choir repeats certain words and phrases. My parish choir sings Schubert’s Mass in D regularly.

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