New "Gloria" for New Roman Missal

Having long begged my musician sons to please try to compose a singable, non-bombast-filled-nor-sickly-sweet-nor-plodding “Gloria” to replace the two (just two) versions all of the local parishes have used for at least three decades, I rejoiced to see a new “Gloria” being made available in accordance with the soon-to-be released revisions to the Roman Missal.

I admit, on my first listen of Jeff Ostrowski’s treatment, I was not sure I liked it.

On re-listening a few times, I have decided that the composition itself is pretty good, and I could find myself happily singing this as opposed to the stuff we’re singing now – there is a reverence and seriousness to the piece, but it is not overly somber, and I like that; the Gloria is a perfect hymn of praise – there’s gotta be a little joy in that!

But I am as convinced as ever that no Gloria composed to fit English can fully serve; the Gloria needs the Latin, and I say this as someone who has no particular desire to return to the Latin mass. I’d be very happy with a Mass that was mostly in English, but brought in the Latin for the Gloria, the Pater Noster and the Angus Dei.

Your thoughts?

YouTube Preview Image

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Bill Kassel


    This is a very nice, very evocative solo-presentation piece, but I don’t think it’s singable for congregations. The wandering melody would be very hard for people in the pew to learn and then sing with confidence.

    As for the Pater Noster, the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) is the one part of the Mass which claims 100-percent congregational participation – when it is spoken. No matter how well it is set to music, some people always drop out when they are called upon to sing it. And that can only be counted a loss.

    Bill Kassel

  • Pingback: Extreme Makeover: the “Gloria” edition | The Deacon's Bench

  • Manny

    It’s very beautiful, no question of that. But it’s a bit more somber or muted than the current. Shouldn’t a Gloria strive for exuberance? Go to youtube and listen to either Vivaldi’s or Bach’s versions. Perhaps they might be a bit much for a mass but I think the current version reaches up to heaven more. But that’s my opinion. I’m curious to see what others think.

  • Jan

    That is certainly a beautiful piece, but I agree with Bill – it would take a long time for your average parish to learn it.

    Could be done, though.

  • Rand Careaga

    As a non-Catholic I mean no impiety or disrespect at all, but how is it that a song of praise of the creed’s principal figure requires a language he was not raised to speak and almost certainly did not understand? It appears to this non-believer that the association of Latin with the Christian faith has everything to do with the political and historical conditions obtaining during the early decades of the religion’s development, and nothing at all with its essence.

    [Actually, Rand, this might be one of those things that cannot be explained sufficiently. I recall being at a mass in a neighboring church w/ my son, who was then 15. We did not usually attend that parish, and the mass was just like every other mass we'd ever attended...but then when it came time for the Lamb of God, the entire congregation chanted "Angus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis," and he leaned over and said, "what is this?" I told him, "it's the Angus Dei, the Lamb of God," and he said, "why can't we always have this?" It was stirring, reverent, profound. I don't know if I could ever adequately explain it to someone who is working from an atheistic perspective, or a purely intellectual one. I wrote about it here: Wonder Leads to Knowing - admin]

  • Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

    I like it. I do think it will be hard for people to learn, but…

  • Peter Brown

    An unfortunate (if very easy) typo in your next-to-last paragraph, last line: the hymn is the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. You typed the “Angus Dei”, which sure sounds like it’s a cow. (Sacred cows are a whole ‘nother religion :-).)

    Please feel free to delete this comment after fixing the typo.


    P.S. I agree with you that the Ostrowski setting is a solid composition. Personally, I really like how close it stays to the style of traditional chant, adorning the text without really calling attention to itself–a style well suited to prayer, especially prayers that are supposed to be sung by untrained singers (read, congregations).

  • Sal

    Bill has it right- much too hard for congregational singing, though very nice.

    If I recall correctly, the original aim was for the Gloria, the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei to still be in Latin (the normative language for all Latin Rite Missals) and the Kyrie in Greek, even in vernacular Masses.
    So, they’re not supposed to be in English, or Spanish, etc.
    More spadework to go along with the new translation, perhaps.

  • Sandra

    It really isn’t that much harder than some of the “creative” versions I have been subjected to, both as a member of the parish choir, or as a parishioner in the pews.

    How well accepted? Depends on the parish priest(s) and his(their) attitudes, as well as the other members of the parish, like music director and musicians, and the choir. If they all EMBRACE IT, then it will be rough a couple times until everyone becomes familiar with it.

    I’m old enough to remember OTHER uproars like the “mystery of faith” and changing the wording from the original English translations.

    We made it through then, we’ll make it through again.

  • Dynan


    Our Father= English(forgive us our debts as we..)

    Angus Dei=Latin

  • Tim Muldoon

    I like it. It sounds nouveau-Gregorian and therefore calls to mind some of the more ancient liturgical music. Will people in the pews learn it? One thought is that one can still find folks who do Pange Lingua for the Good Friday service, and that’s not the easiest tune either.

  • cathyf

    You typed the “Angus Dei”, which sure sounds like it’s a cow.

    To be pedantic, that would be steers, not cows. (Could make a comment here about “eunuchs for the [Burger] Kingdom” but that wouldn’t be prudent… ;-) )

  • lethargic

    I like it as a listen, but agree with Mr. Kassell — too complex for the parameters of congregational singing. Indeed, that is my main gripe with the current music — nice songs if we had Celine to sing for us, but not suitable for congregational singing, which is a whole ‘nother animal.

    But it beats the ol’ “Gloria [clap clap] gloria [clap clap] in excelsis deo [clap clap]” with a stick, you betcha.

  • Annie

    It is pretty, and I like the chant-like feel…but it doesn’t seem to build in the way I think the Gloria should. Perhaps it will when it is sung with a choir and musical accompaniment.

    I agree that it would be wonderful to sing some of the parts of the mass in latin. When CNN did a series about the difficulties church communities face in integrating various ethnic groups, a woman offered the suggestion that we have a universal language that would allow everyone to worship together…imagine that novel idea!!

    A magnificent version of the “new” Gloria was composed by James MacMillan for the Papal Mass in Scotland.

    at 16:10

  • bt

    At some point music kind of took over the liturgy. At the Church I attend, it is very rare to hear the following prayer:

    Priest: Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread to offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.

    The reason I rarely hear it anymore, is because the choir sings over the top of the priest. I prefer to hear this prayer and respond to it.

    As far as the Gloria goes, I think you have identified primary deficiencies:
    2.sickly sweet

    Liturgical music should be composed with thought given to such deficiences, as often the congregation gets saddled with such music for the next ten or tweny years.

  • Bro. AJK

    Dear Elizabeth,

    I read a lot of people stating that this is too difficult for the average pewsitter. It just needs time. The Gloria is not used during Advent, giving a parish choir enough time to learn one for Christmas. Those who have commented on the time realize that a sound choir and director can indeed teach it to many pewsitters. Likewise, many in the pews at least have a vague sense of how to read music and can muddle along.

    Now, I like this setting. It has already been said, but it is very simple in its melody. It is clearly in line with the chant of our past. This is part of our patrimony. I predict, though, that for these strengths it will not be used by many parishes.

  • Aristotle A. Esguerra

    With respect, to judge a liturgical composition’s virtue by standards of earthly music (exuberance, build-up) is to misjudge it entirely.

    “‘The more closely a composition for church approaches in its movement, inspiration and savour the Gregorian melodic form, the more sacred and liturgical it becomes; and the more out of harmony it is with that supreme model, the less worthy it is of the temple.’ It is not, of course, a question of imitating Gregorian chant but rather of ensuring that new compositions are imbued with the same spirit that inspired and little by little came to shape it.” — Ven. John Paul II, echoing St. Pius X (emphasis added)

    As far as somberness of a piece goes, that is ultimately controlled by the singer. Most chants — even those designated for funeral Masses — can certainly be sung with a joie de vivre. The key is in the approach. Unbeknownst to too many Catholics, chant does not equal melancholy.

  • Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

    Pretty to listen to, but difficult to sing. If we’re going to chant, why not just Gregorian Chant?

  • Ellen

    I like it very much. I don’t think it would be hard to learn, and it’s far, far better than the ones we sing at our parish. (Our new pastor has banned the clapping Gloria – you know the one: Gloria (clap, clap)

    It’s not pitched so high that only castrati can sing it, it’s dignified and I love it.

  • Iris Celeste

    I love it! You mean it’s coming soon to a parish near you? Yahoo! I usually resist anything that requires singing, because I don’t wish to torment those next to me. I tend to read along and contemplate the words, but I can do this.

  • Fizz

    At my home church, we sing this version. Chwała na wysokości Bogu. Probably not as good as that choir, but you get the idea.

    At the Newman center we sing this version of the gloria But with a hundred time more passion. By the time we reach the “Glory to God in the highest! Sing Glory to God!” It’s practically overwhelming.

    I’ll give the new version of the gloria a chance, but it seems to be lacking vitality. That’s what I find lacking in a lot of hymns.

  • Brigid Elson

    It’s fairly simple and could be learned by the congregation. It’s fairly simple and dignified, and does have a Gregorian feel to it.
    When I was a little nipper one could travel the world and recognize the parts of the Mass in whatever church one was in, as is suitable for the Universal Church.

  • marybel

    As a choir member and sometime enthusiastic pew singer, I liked the words, simplicity, and chant quality, which harkens back to when I attended Mass as a young person. It would actually be easy to learn.

    We often sing some beautiful, soaring Glorias at Mass, which have refrains that are easily learned by the congregation… but many are still reluctant to sing out, probably because they hope not to offend their fellow pew members.

    Our pastor often reminds all that singing is praying twice, but many Catholics have a long way to go to give up their self-consciousness about singing., no matter how easy the song is.

  • Greta

    Frankly, anything they can do to get back to being focused on God and less on ourselves is good. We have lost so much over the last 40 years and I find it amazing that those who supported all the weird stuff are now worried we might not be able to learn a return to what was here for centuries. Do they really think people today are less intelligent than those 40 years ago? No, they do not want to see their “Spirit” changes to go to the dust bin.

    My vote is Latin and our parish uses it often, though not exclusively as we have multiple priests here and I suppose some have preferences. But of course we are in a faithful Dominican Parish here with first year novices (21 of them this year) and nuns in habits. We are blessed. Of course I have to travel 45 minutes each way to get there, but worth it.

  • Lisa Mladinich

    I’d prefer something more rousing and melodic. These complex chants are very beautiful, but I agree with those who have commented that it’s a bit somber for a Gloria. Very restful, not triumphant. I like it’s purity, though, and its prayerful reverence.

  • Jenny

    I like the setting and seems easy enough to sing to me. Of course I am just excited that I may never hear “Mass of Creation” again.

  • Max Lindenman

    I like it. I couldn’t sing it, but that’s not saying much. I can barely get my larynx around “Happy Birthday.”

    Now, please, somebody make my day by telling me, “Why should we make things easy, huh? Why should we knuckle under to the dictatorship of ease? If you can’t carry the tune, go join the Episcopalian Church, where everyone sings Gloria to the tune of “Woolly Bully!”

  • Sarah Pierzchala

    My 2 cents:

    People will miss the “triumphant” sound of their current Glorias, but should accept this quickly. It doesn’t sound hard to learn at all.

    I like that it reminds me of chant—via Enya!

  • Peter

    I think it’s a very pretty setting, and if it is embraced, there’ll be no trouble with everyone learning it. Here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, the bishop has requested that beginning this coming Advent and lasting for one year, every parish chant the Mass parts with the new settings. Pretty exciting.

    As one too young (24) to know what it was like to chant all the mass parts, I’d say my favorite of all the Glorias currently out there is from the Mass of Light, the second one that Fizz mentions above. Here’s a video of an ordination mass for the Congregation of Holy Cross where it is sung by the Notre Dame Folk Choir “with full heart and voice”, as they say:

  • Peter

    Mrs. Scalia,
    You wrote, “and he said, “why can’t we always have this?” It was stirring, reverent, profound,” but stated that you have “no particular desire to return to the Latin mass.” If the Agnus Dei has this effect on your then 15yr old, what might the Tridentine Mass in its entirety do for him, and everyone else?


    [This is why I am so grateful to our Holy Father for giving us licit alternatives within our spiritual banquet of the Eucharist. I detailed within my piece why I have no particular desire to return to the Latin Mass. But I think its wonderful that those who wish to participate in it have that opportunity.-admin]

  • Fr. Neil Buchlein

    Very melodic and beautiful giving “glory to God” but really not very “singable” for a congregation. Nice as a solo but it is not meant to be a solo. Perhaps if there was a repeatable antiphon for the congregation to sing. I do not think it will work for my congregation. . .besides, we do have a pipe organ.

  • Al

    My parish is full of moms, kids, dairy farmers and truck drivers. You should hear them sing. We will have this one down pat by the third try.

  • Robert

    As a pre-Vatican II alter boy I can tell you from experience that few really understood the Mass in Latin. I recall that at the typical pre-Vatican II Mass in my parish that less than a dozen people followed in a Latin-English missal.

    The greatest thing Vatican II did was to remove Latin from the Mass. I truly believe it is a distraction for most Catholics. Worship in one’s native language is far more meaningful for the average Christian.

    Another point: I though you’re dismissive remark to Rand was a tad strong and not very charitable. Her inquiry seemed genuine. Even if you perceived it differently you should have accepted it as such.

    [Rand is a male, not a female, and a longtime reader and correspondent who is, in fact, an atheist and very much an intellectual. I took him to be entirely sincere, and I believe he knows that my answer was also sincere and in no way meant to be uncharitable. In fact, having re-read my response --which was not dismissive, but honest (and supported by an additional offering I hoped would clarify)-- I am sure he knows it. Even if you perceived it differently, perhaps you can accept it as such? ;-) I try to give everyone a benefit of a doubt until they demonstrate that I should not! -admin]

  • George Brinkeroff

    I like it but not enough to replace our present Gloria. Our Gloria, the Pater Noster and the Angus Dei envelops me in the Mass. I may not know the words, but the unknown words and the calming music create that what the Mass is all about. I can sense and feel something that can only be felt deep inside me. But then that’s just me.

  • Pingback: New “Gloria” for New Roman Missal

  • Antoinette

    It may take some time to get a congregation to join in. Yet, no one seems to have a problem singing in Latin the songs they remember from childhood or pre-Vatican II days. I agree with you, certain hymns should be sung in Latin at mass, it is the language of the church, in spite of what some people may say. Many religions have a “language”. Arabic for Islam, Hebrew for Jews, etc. Let’s not get into a verbal war over the language of the church – it is both the vernacular, and the sacred.

  • Darren

    About keep parts of the Mass in Latin, it’s on the books that the Church considers it “desirable” (ie. not required, per se, but something the Church desires for her people) that many of the faithful’s parts in the Mass be sung (not recited) in Latin. Here’s what the GIRM says:

    19. Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the profession of faith and the Lord’s Prayer, set to simple melodies.

  • Jacob Josef

    Antoinette, my dear sister, you are very astute learning a hymn makes learning the mystical language easier.

    For the rest of us and as a point of fact: The Catholic Church has three offical languages; the three languages of the Crucifix (Latin, Greek, and Aramaic). And, that the approved vernacular (i.e. English, Castillian, Russian, etc. ) can be used for the readings at a Latin Mass. I do not know, but I would not be suprised if the same can be said for other rites.

    Regardless, of preference of language that for all Catholics it is highly laudable to learn the basic prayers of your branch of the Church: (Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be) Latin for Latin Rite Catholics, Greek for Byzantine Catholics, and Aramaen for Syriac Catholics. Even more laudable, though voluntary is “to go the extra mile” and learn the basic prayers in the other two languages of the Catholic Church. It brings about unity among the Faithful and certainly an increase in self-knowledge. Here, I am thinking of priest that is a Byzatine Catholic, incardinated as a Latin priest, and has attained dual-faculties as a Maronite. The Internet is a wonderful tool for these purposes.

    Also, let us remember that the Jews attending the Temple, primarily spoke the Aramaen language, and generally did not speak Hebrew, but the high priests, priests, and rabbis of the Temple did speak Hebrew for the Liturgy. Most of the educated folks were fluent Greek speakers as well; a Hellenized class of philosophers and priests.

    For the average Jew going to the Temple a book similar to the Missal was used, called a Targum, Hebrew text facing Aramaen, or Hebrew text facing Greek. For the Latin Rite Catholics one of the best ways to learn Latin outside of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass is to use the Clementine Little Hours of the Virgin Mary. There is a blue version with an FSSP forward and it has Latin facing English. This is the same hours used by St. John Damacene way back when he was enslaved by the Muslims around the time of Mohamhead.

    Each language becomes easier than the last, as I can attest to this. I can say the Rosary in 4 different languages. Each language expresses it’s own character and value.


  • Linda

    I had a thought – why not just use the Gregorian Chants we already have for the parts of the Mass (Latin). No need to rewrite anything. There are Masses for the different seasons. As a singer I don’t care for singing “refrains” on a prayer that we should all be singing together (Gloria). I’d also like to say when I’m in the pew (I’m in the choir normally), one reason I don’t sing is the key is usually too high or too low. The key of the music seems to be geared to the choir director – if a soprano, then high key for example. This could be why many don’t sing, not because something is too difficult.

  • Rand Careaga

    For the record, I did not regard the response as in the least dismissive; am indeed the holder in good standing of a Y chromosome; would describe myself as a “mystical agnostic” rather than an atheist, although admittedly rather closer to the atheist than the mystic end of the spectrum. I thank our proprietress for her reply.

  • Matt W.

    Sooooooo much better than the knee-slapping “Glor-ee! Glor-ee to God!” we sing in our parish. I cannot wait until Advent.

  • Jenny

    As a church musician for 20+ years I will bet you all that this piece is easier to learn than you think and easier than just about any piece of contemporary bombastic-ness your parish presented last Sunday. Its underlying structure is (sadly) unfamiliar to most which our brains automatically translate into “too hard”.

    The Gloria does not have a refrain. It is a through composed prayer and should be said or sung as such. Why do most modern composers do this? Because they know that their ‘verses’ are too hard for the congregation to sing!! Go simple; go beautiful; go chant.

  • Jon White

    “…and the Angus Dei…” – As of this writing, the typo “Angus” still needs to be changed to “Agnus”. Thanks!

  • Jon White

    After listening to the chant, I must say I liked it at the first hearing, but did not discern an easily-learnable, repeated pattern in the melody. This might make it very difficult for the congregations to learn (and, therefore, to use well for worship.) It’s my understanding that ancient and medieval music was similar to this type of music: not having an easily-discerned, repeated pattern in the melody.

  • Patti

    This is lovely, serene and conducive to lifting the mind from the pedestrian to the sublime. And it’s not really that hard to learn; it’s basically similar to more familiar forms of chant, which sadly to many parishes is no longer familiar. It sure beats out that dreadful Oom-pah-pah version of the Gloria that seems so beloved in some parishes we’ve attended, and I agree with Jenny: It’s a prayer that is sung and not a song that is used for prayer, so the division into “verses” and “chorus” is inappropriate. Some of the modern so-called folk versions are difficult for the average churchgoer to sing along with, what with all the leaps and bounds all over the scale and dotted notes for odd timings. As for the use of Latin, I agree it’d be great to see it widely restored, and wouldn’t this be lovely to use as a melody for the Latin original? Yes, Gregorian is beautiful, as is Ambrosian, but having a newer form of melodic chant for Latin isn’t “musical heresy”.

  • Bryant S

    I like this precisely because of its chant style. Some have expressed concern that it would be hard to learn and to sing, but one of the great appeals of chant is that it is actually quite easy and natural. It accommodates most voices. And it’s kind to even those of us who find it hard to carry a tune.

    We also need to keep in mind that the melody that most of us know so well will fit the new translation without much strain.

    It’s the translation that matters, after all.

  • Jeffrey Quick

    ICEL has provided a simple chant Mass in both Latin and English which really should become the “default option” for OF Masses. And if we want to observe THE LETTER of Vatican II (instead of some ill-defined “spirit” –we’re not to consort with spirits are we?), here’s a bit from Sacrosantum Concilium:
    54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to tho norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

    Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

  • Bob

    I have to say I am kind of stunned by the number of people who think this piece is unsingable or at least that it would be difficult for congregations to sing it. It strikes me as far easier to sing than much of the music, including many Glorias, currently being sung by congregations. There’s no tricky time signature to wrestle with (although admittedly most hymns use pretty straight forward time signatures), no long drawn out notes requiring the ability to count time accurately, no tricky rhythmic variations using everything from 32nd notes to multiple tied together whole notes, no flats, sharps, naturals or other surprising augmentations, no large intervals to leap. The pitch is movable so you can sing it at whatever pitch is comfortable for the congregation. The range covers an octave. Most people should be okay with that once the appropriate pitch is established, but some may be challenged by it.

    As for whether it is joyful or exuberant enough. I think it is. Music in the chant style, although conveying the same emotions as other music, is typically more restrained in doing so. There is a reason for this. If chant seeks to instill, evoke or communicate joyfulness or any other emotion, it seeks to so so at a level that is not simply emotional but is rather spiritual. In the same way that icons in the eastern tradition are not sentimental but attempt rather to penetrate through to deeper spiritual realities, so too does chant. The joy that chant seeks to instill is joy in the spirit rather than joy at the emotional level. There’s nothing wrong with joy at the emotional level and there’s nothing wrong with music that evokes joy in the emotions but that’s not typically how chant works. There’s nothing wrong with how chant works either for that matter. I believe that both styles of music are necessary and beneficial.

    It makes me wonder if the perceived difficulty is a result of the unfamiliarity with the chant idiom. I don’t know. I personally find this Gloria easier to learn and to sing than much music that is currently used.

  • Mila

    I like it. It flows the same way Gregorian chant would. Having said that, I’m with you. I’d very much prefer that it be sung in Latin.
    Your story about your son’s comment on hearing the Agnus Dei and asking why can’t we have this all the time reminds me of something I have noticed. In our parish people hardly sing, or if they do it’s not audible to me! However, a few years ago our previous music director would use the Agnus Dei in Latin occassionally, and when he did, everybody sang and one could hear them singing. Food for thought.

  • Boniface, osb

    I think we have room for both Latin and English, even in the Gloria. As you say, too many current versions are too sentimental–bombastic, plodding, or saccharine. This is nice, and has a good “Gregorian” chant feel. If we sang the Gloria only in Latin, I’m afraid the people would never come to understand what they were singing…

    By the way, I had to laugh this weekend. A parishioner was telling a fellow priest that, due to the new translation, all the old music for Mass had to be redone–including the Gregorian chant for the Latin form. The priest tried to explain that the new translation only affected the English version, but the parishioner could not grasp the difference–he insisted that the Latin would no longer fit the chant notes.