A very ancient and venerable hymn: The Gloria

05-22-2016Liturgy CornerCheryl Manfredonia

"Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord, sing praise to him and highly exalt himforever."
—Daniel 3:37

The Gloria is a very ancient and venerable hymn in which the Church glorifies the Father and the Lamb. It is preferably sung (or said) on Sundays and feast days outside the seasons of Advent and Lent. The Gloria is a joyful response to the forgiveness received in the Penitential Act. When it was first introduced to the Roman liturgy, it was sung only at the midnight celebration of the Nativity of our Lord – called the "Angelic Hymn" (because it begins with the song of the angels that was heard at the birth of Jesus Christ).

"Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God,sing Gloria to God in the Highest and on earth peace to people of good will. "
—Luke 2:1314

During Advent, the Gloria is omitted in anticipation of its first singing by the angels at Bethlehem. During Lent, it is omitted because of the somber and penitential nature of the season; we consider what our lives would be like if Christ had not come to save us! It is sung again, with great joy and fervor, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, complete with bells ringing! We are reminded that in the Mass, Heaven and earth are mystically joined, as explained in Vatican II. Our liturgy is a foretaste of the Heavenly liturgy, that we journey toward where Christ is sitting at the right hand of theFather.

In the middle section, the text might seem a bit repetitive: we praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you thanks…..but our praise of God's greatness should be so constant – almostindescribable!

The prayer ends with contrition and petition: asking the Lord for Mercy, as well as asking for Him to Hear our Prayer. We can compare this in a way to the Lord's Prayer: first we glorify Him, then we thank Him, then we present our needs to Him. Perhaps a littlehomework: how can you make your private prayer much like the Gloria?

Cheryl Manfredonia - Director of Sacred Music and Liturgy