Question on the Gloria

I’ve been using Schutte’s Gloria from his Mass of Christ the Savior for a while. Everyone loves it and knows it, but today Father - along with someone who happened to be sitting in his office - offered as to how he wished we would sing it as a prayer rather than a song, iow, without the repeating refrains. That’s not a bad concept, afaic, so I came home and looked at, played with it a bit and realized, in order to omit the repeating refrains, the endings of each verse would need to be re-worked in order to maintain the musicality. In the end, I decided I was not comfortable messing with someone else’s composition. I know there are other Mass settings with the Gloria composed straight through and I am inclined to use a whole new Mass setting (after Christmas) rather than tamper with Schutte’s. Thoughts?

I heartily encourage you to dump the Schutte. There are many Mass settings that are not only licit, but also totally free as in beer, and even some with permissive licensing, so you can freely reproduce words and music for better congregational singing.

Corpus Christi Watershed Kyriale
NPM Chants of the Roman Missal
ICEL Music for the Roman Missal
CMAA: Chants of the Roman Missal

Thank you - will check these out. I like beer, so it all sounds good. But with or without Schutte, am I not wrong in thinking it’s not okay to tamper with an existing composition? (if you can follow the double negatives!)
(already anticipating Father’s response, who has already stated that he likes the Schutte, “without the refrains, should be easy” - and don’t get me started on being advised on musical matters by non-musicians)

Were we to speak/pray the Gloria, I doubt that we would use “refrains.” I vote the the “straight-through” Gloria arrangements.

I guess the responsorial psalms aren’t prayers then? Liturgy of the Hours are done refrain style, but that’s not a prayer?

Disagree with the premise. Having a refrain allows people to sing with it when first learning it. I like it both ways, depending on the way the music is written.

Mass of Renewal by Kauffman can be used both ways.

I agree. The question is not whether or not the Gloria should be sung as a prayer or as a song with a refrain - I like both, and agree that the repeating refrain serves an important purpose - the question is, do I have the right to tamper with Schutte’s composition?

At my parish, we sing (or would it be chant?) the Gloria Simplex by Prolulx. It is simple and we learned it quite easily and it is very reverent and prayerful. Here it is on YouTube:

It was the last thing our late pastor taught us the last Sunday he said Mass for us. Later on, on his first Sunday with us about four months later, our current pastor was “wowed” by how beautifully we sing it as a congregation.

Since you do not own the Schutte composition and it is merely licensed to you, the question would be whether the licensors will grant you permission to modify the work and perform that derivative in public. Your question is best put to the people you are paying for the license. (Or just grab a free Gloria without such a license and do whatever you want with it without having to pay anyone.)

Regarding “like a prayer”, the point mentioned in the OP is that the Gloria is not structurally designed responsorially. The Responsorial Psalm, the Liturgy of the Hours, and for that matter the Kyrie Eleison and other parts of the Mass where the priest prays and the people respond, these are all responsorial or antiphonal by design. The framers of the liturgy intended these to be in the format of call and response. By contrast, the Gloria is written as a hymn or prayer straight through, with no responses. While repetition and refrains are known to be licit, they are viewed by some with suspicion and seen as tinkering with the format to fit the music. This is antithetical to liturgical music such as Gregorian chant, where the music is written to fit the text, and it serves the words as support and amplification. Tinkering to create an artificial responsory or refrains is one step away from changing the text altogether, and we know that is illicit.

So the OP is to be commended for wanting to conform the music more closely to the liturgical intent of the text, and I have offered resources in support of that.

I too disagree with the premise, but the poster that started this was approached by the priest and needs to honor the request and the priest’s opinion.

Looking it over, I don’t think it has to be altered at all.

That aside, a few ideas for consideration:

Only classical music really has a “don’t mess with it” “policy”.

-Licensing is with the printed copies…if you put it on music software and changed it and handed it out, that would be a problem.

-I sometimes add a measure of vamping in between a verse and chorus of different songs…either due to a natural feel or to give a chance to breathe.

– The composers of liturgical music today provide, sometimes to their dismay, piano accompaniment. Much of the time, this accompaniment is not the best for accompanying the singing church. These composers often prefer that the musician improvises on the piano in order to best assist the singing-- that the accompaniment is only there as a last resort for those that choose not to learn to improvise.

Okay, I looked at it again, played it straight through, as written, and it really doesn’t work. The final cadence in each verse leads to the refrain. If you change one or two notes, it flows smoothly. That being said, out of curiosity, I called OCP, Dan Schutte’s publisher, and asked if would be okay to rework it slightly so that it doesn’t have the repeating refrain. As I expected, they said absolutely not, that it would be an infringement of copyright. As a composer, I understand and agree with this.

All you have to do is change the last chord of each verse to a D. And you aren’t printing them differently, melody stays the same. I eliminate and change chords all the time. NBD.

I agree that the music needs to support the text, not the other way around.

I’m of two minds regarding the prayer vs song approach. I like and appreciate the straight-through versions, and understand why my pastor is making this request - his point is that the Gloria was originally a prayer, spoken straight-through. On the other hand, a Gloria with a repeating refrain allows the congregation to rejoin, to sing easy and familiar words together - this fosters community - (and I repeat, don’t get me going on non-musicians advising me in matters of music) before proceeding on into the next (complex, heady, and multi-syllabic) verse. I don’t believe either is wrong, and honestly see the value in each. What I wasn’t comfortable with was taking a composer’s work and re-styling it. Maybe a little nit-picky on my part, but as a sometime-composer myself, I don’t want people messing with my stuff. It’s clear - to me, anyway - that DS wrote this piece with the intention that it would be sung as he wrote it. Not a huge deal to change a note or a chord here or there, I suppose, but if this had been his intention he would have offered this option.

I have to say that surprises me. I think also I would question this if you want to pursue it. I have never heard a publisher say that every verse of a hymn must be sung or you are infringing on a copyright.

If one can legally sing three out of four verse, I bet one does not have to sing the refrain everytime. In any case, the way the publisher is acting, I would can a Gloria just on general principle. We follow our priest and bishops, not our publishing company. If a Catholic publishing company does not understand that, then they are missing the “Catholic” part.

That’s not what I said. The issue was my re-working it so that the verses flowed better while eliminating the repeating refrains, tweaking and changing things. It’s the re-styling it that is the problem. I don’t have a problem with this at all. Nobody’s acting anyway or other. There’s no battle here.

I know.

I have just tried searching to see if a copyright mandated that the entirety of a hymn be sung. If not, then I think that the person at OCP may be speaking from shaky ground. So far, I have found nothing. I do know that not all copyright suits are won by the plaintiff, so it is possible for a publisher to claim more rights than they really have.

This is an inherent problem with a publishing company who controls vast amounts of music used in Catholic liturgy and exerts too much control over the licensing. For me it is hard to see why more parishes do not abolish this music altogether, just from a standpoint of budgeting and creative control. We do not even have to get into a discussion of musical style or appropriateness for the liturgy - Lord knows that I have talked about these issues at length - but they are almost tangential when you consider the small budgets allocated to liturgical music and the needs of directors to be able to arrange and edit works according to real liturgical needs.

The issue is not whether the whole hymn is sung or not. The OP wished to change the structure of the hymn. She wished to insert new chords and change the transitional parts so that the verses flowed together without a refrain being sung. That is a substantial change to the arrangement, and that is known in the industry as “creating a derivative work”. There are licenses which permit derivative works and there are those which forbid them. I suggest avoiding the latter because you are giving up creative control. However, it is certainly within the rights of the copyright holder to restrict these rights.

I found the answer I was looking for and will continue to operate within my own comfort level. As a musician and a photographer, I have an appreciation for copyright laws and am not interested in a battle. I had no intention of stirring things up.



As a musician, and wanna be composer (written a few psalm settings, few other things here and there) myself, I would be delighted if anyone used what I offered, and wanted to change anything they wanted to make it more usable for their church. Especially under obedience to their pastor.

It’s not about me.

If you talk to the ACTUAL composer vs the copyright holder, you will many times find a different answer. I’ve spoken to many Catholic liturgical composers, and most of them would agree with what I’m saying.

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