Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wedding Masses and the Gloria


That about sums up how I am feeling this morning. Last night I drove the two and a half hours up to Grafton, Wisconsin to present a WLP "Sing the Seasons" choral reading session for musicians in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. And it was more than worth the drive up there. What a delightful evening of music making with a talented group of musicians. Bravo Milwaukee!

A few days ago, I received an email from one of the faithful followers of Gotta Sing Gotta Pray. I asked Mike's permission to reprint his e-mail here. He is asking for some pastoral wisdom, which I am hoping many of you will offer. Here goes:

My name is Mike Kiebel, and I am the Music Mission Steward at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Portage, MI.  We've come across a situation here, and I wanted to share it with someone with a wider experience than my own in order to come up with a correct solution.

The rubrics for the Wedding Liturgy in the Roman Missal, Third Edition, now call for the Glory to God to be said or sung at wedding liturgies.  This is, of course, a change from the previous rubric which did not require it.  We're wrestling with coming to a suitable pastoral response to this change, and I'd certainly welcome your input.

As we've all experienced, perhaps on a more regular basis than we care to admit, response from the assembly to the prayer and music of the wedding liturgy is often less than we'd like.  Many factors play into this:  the presence of a significant number of non-Catholics (or Catholics who seldom attend Mass), our secular culture that says that weddings are to be "watched" and not participated in, despite our best efforts, etc.  We wrestle with this regularly in our very large parish, where robust liturgical singing is the norm.  We go to great lengths to encourage participation by the assembly, and sometimes even the Amen at the end of prayers is a major effort.

The revised Roman Missal now calls for the Glory to God to be said at wedding liturgies (and by extension, sung, as a hymn really ought to be).  Glorias can be very difficult for congregations to sing, given the length and complexity of the form.  We sing the Gloria in our parish routinely at the prescribed times, and for the most part, our people do quite well.  But doing a Gloria at weddings is pretty risky in terms of participation.  And in our situation, where a sung Gloria is the norm, a recited Gloria seems more a "fulfill the letter of the law" proposition.

If this were placed on a spectrum, on the one hand there are the strict rubricists who would say, "It's in the book; do it!" with no regard to the efficacy it would have on the people.  Result:  the music (and  the prayer) fails for lack of participation.  On the other hand, the strictly "pastoral" person (I can't think of a better label) would say, "The people will never be able to do this, so just omit it."  Result:  not following what the Church requires.  Both positions are wrong, of course, and the best pastoral response, I think, lies between the two.  And I'm really struggling with where the answer lies within the spectrum, and how to implement this on a practical basis.

I suspect that many parishes have not "discovered" the Gloria requirement in the new Missal, so this may not have appeared on their radar as yet.  But I'm wondering if you've heard thoughts on how parishes have resolved this dilemma.  Thanks so much for your service to the Church!

Mike Kiebel

Music Mission Steward

St. Catherine of Siena Church, Portage, MI

So, folks, let's share some wisdom and practical pastoral experience with Mike.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Jeff Rice said...

This is a good topic to discuss. One thing to consider is that the Gloria need not be sung by the congregation. While I certainly agree that the norm with a regular congregation should be for the people to sing it straight through, a wedding congregation could participate simply by listening to a simple setting. We have used the Psallite setting (LitPress, sorry Jerry!), which is just about the most straightforward you can get, but at the same time, very beautiful with a cantor and organ accompaniment.

siobhan maguire said...

In my parish, we are assuming that this is an error which will eventually be corrected. For now, we are living under that future correction. By which I mean to say, we don't sing the Gloria during wedding Masses, for all the reasons that Mike has so pastorally and gently enumerated above.

Anonymous said...

I received the same email inquiry from Mike Kiebel.

In my response to him, I suggested he consider possibly using a responsorial Glory to God (instead of a through-composed setting).

-bari colombari (at OCP in Portland)

Adam Wood said...

The concern here is built on a false principle: that the "success" of a liturgy, or any particular moment in it, is based on whether or not the people "participate," which (in this case) means sing.

I love congregational singing, and encourage it as much as possible. But the notion that it is the determining factor in "success" is... silly.

Especially in a wedding. Should we expect that a (typically) mixed-faith, mixed-origin congregation is going to sing the Alleluia, the Sanctus, the Agnus Dei? Probably not.

Anonymous said...

Siobhan, that's rather bold and "clerical." I agree with Jeff that there are ways to do this that can include the assembly or just a cantor. There are very simple setting that can be chanted (call and response). It may not be perfect, but we do have a responsibility to foster the proper celebration of the rites. It's not easy, but we do have a Gloria attached to every sacramental celebration celebrated during a Mass. I feel that this is a great addition to the Missal, but I know I am a minority.

Marie said...

We found an almost-word-perfect setting of the ICEL-2010 Gloria to the tune of Beethoven's ODE TO JOY. It uses a refrain, and a very few phrases are slightly different, but decided it's better than breaking the rules by leaving it out. We've found that at weddings the idea of participate-by-listening doesn't really work, because most of the people don't realise that they're supposed anything but a passive audience. Full active conscious listening needs a mindset which non-regular attenders don't usually have.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, everyone, for your helpful suggestions! Blessings on your ministries!