3/4/11 – What Happens At Mass, Part VII – The Gloria

The introduction of the new translation of the Roman Missal is not just a chance to learn new words, but will hopefully be an opportunity to come to a deeper understanding of the Mass.

After the Penitential Act (of which the Confiteor is one possible form) or the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water, the Gloria is typically sung or spoken at Sunday Masses.  The obvious exceptions are the current season of Lent, and the season of Advent.

The Gloria was originally written as a hymn of praise to God.  Like other prayers used at Mass, it wasn’t used on a regular basis for some time.  When it was originally introduced into the Mass, it was reserved for only special occasions, then gradually became part of the Sunday liturgy.  We have evidence of the Gloria being used at a Papal Mass in Rome during the late 7th century.

Like some other parts of the Mass, the translation of the Gloria has been extensively revised.

One thing you may notice in the new translation is the patterning within it.  The structural device of layering elements of a particular pattern on top of each other, or in succession, has a particular poetic effect.  This is missing from the existing text.  The former text, translated on the basis of content rather than direct translation of the specific words, had these elements reduced into smaller set of less repetitive phrases.

Again, another feature of this revised translation is its allusions to scripture.  The phrase “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) is retained in the new version.  There are also several scriptural passages that refer to Christ “taking away the sins of the world”, who is “seated at the right hand of the Father”, who has mercy on us and receives our prayer.  Take a look, for example, at Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20 and Hebrews 1:3.

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