Order of Mass – Gloria Part 2

February 15th, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

After looking at the first part of the Gloria last week, we now turn our attention to the second half. Before I do that, though, it may be helpful to you to see the new text again:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
to people of good will. We praise you, we bless
you, we adore you, we glorify you, we give you
thanks for your great glory, Lord God, heavenly
King, O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son, Lord God,
Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away
the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our
prayer; you are seated at the right hand of the
Father, have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are
the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus
Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God
the Father. Amen.

The first half of the hymn, as we see, is addressed to God the Father, this second part is addressed to God the Son. Right away we see a change. Currently we refer to Jesus as the “only Son of the Father.” In the new translation that phrase is replaced with the title “Only Begotten Son.” The
phrase “Son of the Father” is then moved to after “Lord God, Lamb of God.”

Adding “Only Begotten Son” recovers an essential phrase from the Latin: “Fili Unigenite.” This is an old and sacred title of Jesus. It speaks of the fact that the Son of God comes forth from the Father, but is no less an eternal Person of the Holy Trinity. Recall that in the Nicene Creed we profess that Jesus is “begotten, not made.”

Following this we see the final changes in the Gloria. Unlike what we are currently saying, the new translation includes two lines that begin with “you take away the sins of the world.” This, too, reflects the Latin. By placing the second of these lines back into the Gloria and adding “have mercy on us,” the new text includes a classic threefold structure of supplication: “have mercy on us . . .receive our prayer . . . have mercy on us.” This is the same kind of structure we have in the Kyrie (Lord have mercy; Christ have mercy; Lord have mercy) and the Lamb of God. There is also a minor change within the phrase, “you take away the sins of the world” (taken from John 1:29). Our current text has “sin of the world,” while the new translation has the plural, “sins.” Though a small change, it does give greater emphasis to the fact that Jesus Christ does not conquer sin in general, but also forgives all our individual sins.

Having looked at the text of the Gloria, it is important to point out that the Gloria should be sung whenever possible. It is a hymn, after all. It is also important to note that the Gloria is most clearly expressed when it is sung straight through without refrains. This keeps its overall structure and flow, addressing the Father first and then the Son.

Fr. John