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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

November 20, 2013

A Gloria from scratch!

evelyn @ 9:45 pm

The other day about 200 people attended a big diocesan Mass in our church. On these occasions, when people come from parishes all over, it is difficult to find a Gloria they will all know. Before the new liturgy came in, everyone used to belt out the old 1982 Bellahouston Gloria, but that doesn’t work too well with the new words. More recently we have had a cantor for the verses, but this time I suggested we try an experiment and see if the congregation would sing in its entirety the very easy St Magdalene Gloria, a refrain version with chanted verses, designed for the new words.

We gave everyone a people’s copy of music and words (right-click to view in detail, and click again to enlarge):

From this, even those who don’t read music can see when the chant note changes. ‘We just followed the dots’, someone said afterwards.

One of our really experienced cantors was asked to lead it and to cope with whatever transpired. The possible scenarios ranged from no-one joining in with her on the verses to everyone singing along and making her redundant. It did occur to me that a lot of people might want to listen to the first verse and come in on the second, so a few people from the choir were briefed to join in very gently on verse 2, pour encourager les autres.

It actually worked incredibly well. Our cantor sang the first verse solo, and on verse 2 I thought I could hear more voices from the congregation than the primed choir. I couldn’t be sure, but I upped the organ a bit and brought in the pedals. There was no doubt about verse 3, though. The cantor could hardly be heard, but this meant she had been successful.

Afterwards, I asked around, and the general consensus was yes, they had all been singing.  Oddly, nobody seemed surprised about this. Of course, this particular set of people is noted for singing well when they all get together, which could mean that they have a lot of music readers.

But there’s another possibility. It could be that they already knew the St Magdalene Gloria. It has been around for over a year now, is officially approved and freely available online. If our own church uses it a lot, maybe others do, too. Have I been flogging a dead horse?

Still, there’s always the new Christmas version to learn …


  1. Well done to all involved! Just sorry I could not be there.

    Comment by Elvira — December 3, 2013 @ 11:28 am

  2. I think you would have enjoyed it, Elvira!

    Comment by evelyn — December 14, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

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