Sunday, March 12, 2017

Gloria... Rewritten an awkward sort of way!

The title of my blog post is inspired by my wife's favorite on-line game, Toontown Rewritten, an updated version of the Toontown game she's played for years.

No, this post is not about Toontown!

Nor is this post about the 60's hit song Gloria, covered by many bands back then, nor the 80's hit song Gloria by the late Laura Branigan.

5+ years later...

Five-and-a-quarter years ago, we started use of the Ordinary Form of the Mass according to the "Third Typical Edition" of the Roman Missal.  Overall, I have to say I like this newer version.  It's far more faithful to the Latin, sounds (on the most part) a lot more prayerful while the 1969 version of the same Mass sounds much more like idle chat at a banquet hall.

There have been some good musical settings of the Third Typical Edition ordinary.  There, of course, have also been some really crappy settings, one being the infamous Mass of Christ the Savior by Dan Schutte, in which the Gloria is a near-blatant rip-off of the My Little Pony jingle, even to a point where a number of us, myself included, have referred to the setting as Missa My Little Pony.

Many new settings (of the better variety, anyways) have well-written Glorias.  My pet peeve, however, is the awkwardness of many Glorias from rewritten versions of previously-written settings, especially those written by composers now deceased (namely Richard Proulx, Alexander Peloquin, David Kraehenbuehl, and Jan Vermulst).  I especially note the attempted rewrite of Peloquin's Mass of the Bells.  The Gloria remains responsorial, but the rhythm of the response is so awkward that dear Alex is probably rolling in his grave ("What the hell are they doing to my music?!").

The Glorias of the two Vermulst hit Masses (Mass for Christian Unity, 1964, and People's Mass, 1970) have suffered similar fate.  The Christian Unity Gloria was fixed for the 1969 Missal, but not until after the composer's 1994 death.  However, when rewriting the Gloria for the 2011 Missal (mind you, the 2011 and 1964 Glorias are similar in translation - very few exceptions), instead of trying to revert to the 1964 setting, it seems "rewritten" once again.  The music of sentences "We praise you.  We bless you.  We adore you.  We glorify you." now utilize pickup notes on all four of the sentences, unlike the 1964 setting.

Speaking of that sequence of sentences ("We praise you. We bless you. We adore you. We glorify you."), in many of the "rewritten" settings, those four sentences are sung as one sentence (or, at most, two sentences), in order to fit the music, instead of writing music to fit the text.  These are four distinct sentences.  In a recited Gloria, I'm willing to bet the people in the pew read these four sentences separately.  I can vouch for my parish in doing that.  A sung Gloria should have a similar integrity.  While I'm not crazy over the use of the pickup notes on the aforementioned Christian Unity Gloria, I do give the folks at World Library Publications credit for keeping the sentences separate.  In my own Holy Angels Mass, melodically based mainly on Mass VIII and rhythmically based mainly on Vermulst's aforementioned Masses, I, too, retained the practice of writing those four sentences as four (not one or two) sentences.

Speaking of my own composition, thus far, Holy Angels is the only Mass I've written for the Third Typical Edition.  I did write four Masses on the previous edition: Mass in Honor of the Precious Blood, 1991; Providence Mass, 1997, Acclamations for Advent, 1998, and Missa Christus Vincit, 2000.  All four of those Masses have been scrapped permanently. I have decided not to try to rewrite the Glorias of any of those in fear of producing the same awkward result that I described in this blurb.  I will probably write another Mass setting in the near future, but not before finishing my Psalm 151 propers project that is about half finished.  (The "seasons" outside of Ordinary Time are finished.  As I write this, I'm in the middle of the Fifth Sunday.  I took a break to write this. ;)

Quod scripsi, scripsi!

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