Continuing as we’ve been doing in studying the beginnings of the Mass, we now come to the hymn “Glory to God in the highest.” It’s another “standard” opening ritual of our Mass, reflecting both our Biblical heritage (its opening words quote the angels’ song in Luke 2:14) and the joyous theological development of the early Church.
I am hoping that the bishops of the USA soon ask Rome for permission to take a step which is already lawful and common in countries which speak French, Spanish, and Portuguese: to use the “Gloria” more as an entrance hymn. This seems especially fitting in the Christmas and Easter seasons, those times of the year when our focus is on God’s saving deeds. I’m sure that this permission will be granted – although in true Roman fashion it probably will be slow in coming! No one is particularly anxious to start changing the text or rubrics of the revised Roman Missal now that it’s finally been promulgated and put into effect in the English-speaking world!
In fact both Roman authorities and our bishops have shown great willingness to permit great flexibility in modifying the introductory rites of the Mass. The one problem, sometimes, is that there are so many ancient rituals that no single one gets enough focus! The Church wants to ensure that our liturgy remains able to “get the point across” without becoming once again a repetitious jumble of lots of very good and very holy things!