Q: For the past few years, from midnight Christmas through Epiphany, the director of music in our parish has elected to use “Angels We Have Heard on High” instead of the Gloria. What is proper in this regard?
A: The General Instruction on the Roman Missal, in the front of our U.S. edition of the Sacramentary, says of the Gloria: “It is sung by the congregation, or by the congregation alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by all together or in alternation. The Gloria is sung or said on Sundays outside of Advent and Lent, on solemnities and feasts, and in special more solemn celebrations.”
Nowhere did I find a permission for the U.S. Church to substitute a hymn for the Gloria. I remember, however, reading that, in the Missal approved by Rome for the German Church, it is permitted to substitute some hymn of glory for the Gloria.
I might also note that the Gloria is also called the Angelic Hymn because its opening words are those of the angels at Christ’s birth. So I can see where the organist is coming from in singing “Angels We Have Heard on High” in place of the Gloria in the Christmas season.
Old Copies of St. Anthony Messenger: From time to time readers ask what they can do with back issues of St. Anthony Messenger. The Wise Man recently received a letter from Father Lazar S. Pattakadavu in India saying back issues are very helpful and much desired in his ministry—especially by youth.