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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

September 6, 2019

A Gloria on the loose?

evelyn @ 4:37 pm


Me: You’ll intone the Gloria, won’t you?

Priest: Which one is it?

Me: The usual one you intone (I sing the notes). I’ll play the phrase first.

Priest: But there’s hardly anyone here. They won’t sing it.

Me: It’ll be all right. The cantor is there to sing the verses.

Priest (grudgingly): All right, then.

In the afternoon, however, he sent me a nice email saying I had proved right about the Gloria. And sure enough, I too had noticed that even with the numbers down the people had sung not only the refrain but good chunks of the verses as well. It may well be that it is time to let this Gloria loose, that is, try it with only the organ for support. Always a daunting prospect for the organist. Will they sing?

Congregations are so unpredictable when it comes to Mass parts. They have (a) things they know well and will always sing (but are often sick of), (b) new things which they have inexplicably embraced and learned with no bother and (c) new things which they show no signs of wanting to pick up, no matter how often the choir puts them forward. The psychology of (b) and (c) might be worth studying by composers. What makes a setting welcome to a congregation?

In this case, however, it’s just possible that category (a) comes into play. We have only one other Gloria which the people can sing right through without a cantor. Although our priest likes it, there is a lot of muttering among the people that they are totally fed up with it. So maybe this is why they are making the effort to learn this new one.

We shall see.


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