Gloria in Honor of St. Hugo


A New Gloria for St. Hugo’s



When preparations were taking place for the implementation of the new Roman Missal in 2011, new Mass settings reflective of the text changes were being released.   Many were simply revisions of older settings.   The success of the body of music written during this time, both newly composed and revised, is mixed, particularly the settings of the Gloria.  Some of the revised settings are clumsy in that the new texts were awkwardly forced into musical phrases meant for different words!   They simply don’t fit.  It also takes time to become comfortable with a text, to live with it.  A natural, communal rhythm emerges when a text becomes familiar.  Think of the chant Lord’s Prayer we sing at some of our Masses.   That setting has been around for over forty years.  Over a thousand people can sing that prayer and be entirely together, without the aid of organ or cantor. The marriage of text and music is so familiar and comfortable.   Now, imagine changing the text and trying to keep the same music!  Or, imagine learning a whole new melody AND words when you haven’t had the chance to absorb the words and you’ve never heard the melody before.  The process gets complicated!  

The Jubilation Mass Gloria of James Chepponis has been a very successful and convincing revision.   This setting has a recurring refrain, which allowed the parish to participate in a limited fashion while learning new words and a completely new melody.   Eventually, the parish learned the entire Gloria and now sings it with great strength. That setting has served our parish well.   The Congregational Mass Gloria of John Lee, which is in the form of chant, has also been successful. The simple musical formula of the psalm tone on which this Gloria is built is easy to learn and allows one to focus on the text.  It is also short which makes it ideal for daily Masses that require a Gloria, or for Sunday Masses during the summer months.

For the sake of variety, I felt it important to search for a third setting, one that complement the two settings in currently in use, and one that would be useful for any liturgy that requires the Gloria.  It would be festive enough for Feasts and Solemnities, but short enough for Ordinary Time.  It would be easy to learn and, in keeping with the preferences of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, would be through-composed without a refrain.  I searched and searched to try to find another setting.  Nothing was convincing, so I decided to give it a try and compose my own setting.  I began this project in 2011.   I would come back to it occasionally, doing some more sketching and thinking, then putting it away.   Finally, this past summer, I decided, once and for all, to complete the project.  

In August of 2018, I presented the setting to Fr. Tony, in honor of his priestly ministry.   We will begin learning it during the Easter season.  You may find a recording here EasterGloria.mp3 . Take some time to have a listen.   The music is in the new hymnal insert.  I hope this new setting of the Gloria will be uplifting and worthy of our worship.