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date: 26 January 2020

Gloria in excelsis Deolocked

  • Richard L. Crocker
  • , revised by David Hiley

Extract

Hymn of praise, sung in the Latin Mass directly after the Kyrie on festal occasions. Counted as part of the Ordinary of the Mass, the Gloria was provided with over 50 chant settings during the Middle Ages. The text is considered one of the great prose hymns of Christian literature, and the chant melodies are among the more important of medieval chant. The Liber usualis contains 15 of these chants in the Ordinary cycles plus four more among the ad libitum chants. (Throughout this article melodies are referred to by their Vatican number followed by their number in the Bosse catalogue, e.g. Gloria I/12.)

The text begins with the angelic hymn from the account of the Nativity in Luke ii.14, and continues with a series of disparate elements that includes reiterated praises (‘Laudamus te …’), acclamatory invocations (‘Domine Deus …’), petitions (‘… miserere nobis’) and a concluding doxology (‘Quoniam …’). The whole text is usually construed in three sections: first, praise to God the Father; second, a Christological section; third, the concluding Trinitarian clause. The nature of the text, however, makes several such constructions possible, and the various stages of development of the text up to the 9th century, as well as the varying structure of the chants, show that differing interpretations were made....

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