Notes from Paula 2-11-2018

Three weeks ago, I wrote about musical settings of the Mass Ordinary – the Gloria, Sanctus, and Lamb of God. Over the next few weeks, we’ll take a brief look at each of these sung prayers. Even a quick glance at the history of each, can further our awareness that we, as Church, worship God in ways that are deeply rooted in ancient tradition -our musical ancestry is one more tie that binds us to all who have gone before us – the Community of Saints.

The opening words of our Gloria have their origin in the words of the angels, as recorded by Luke (2:13-14): And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.”

The prayer first appeared in its entirety in ancient Greek sources – the faithful sang it at dawn on Easter. By the sixth century, the Gloria was already a part of the Roman mass, chanted by the congregation. The prayer’s length and complexity, however, inspired composers over time to set it to increasingly elaborate and difficult music, such that by the 18th century, in European cathedrals, only trained choirs could sing it, while congregations merely stood by, and listened.