At St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, the Gloria Patri (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3RsWr9ZpV8) is a short hymn sung by the congregation. The hymn itself is less than a minute long, and the hymn occurs after the formal greeting from one of the pastors, but before church announcements and the offering. Because the Gloria Patri occurs early in the service, it seems to serve as a congregational proclamation of the central tenet of their faith-the Trinity. The text of the hymn supports this as it opens with “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.” The Gloria Patri is used in both traditional and contemporary settings in the United Methodist Church (UMC). The UMC’s Discipleship Ministries has two different versions of the Gloria Patri on their website; one that is a closed score, contemporary arrangement and one that is only the melody with chord symbols. (https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/doxology-and-gloria-patri) The UMC has made this hymn available to its various churches by creating contemporary versions of the hymn, as well as a more simplified version so that musicians who are not classically trained can perform the hymn. Unlike the majority of hymns, the Gloria Patri is being adapted for the modern ear instead of being discarded or retired to traditional services. Because of this, one can deduce that the hymn is important to the identity of the community as a whole.
At St. Luke’s UMC, when the hymn is sung those who are able stand. The hymn appears to be sung from memory by most, if not all, of the congregation members. The organ is the accompanying instrument, along with the strings and brass that provide the service music. There is a piano available, but it was not used. The organ gives a greater sense of tradition. The volume of the organ is much greater than the piano, the organ has greater sustain than the piano, and the organ used bright, brassy, horn-like sounds. These qualities could be prefered because the congregation wants to proclaim their belief in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost and the sustain and volume of organ are conducive to that. The community does value proclaiming their faith. They keep and maintain a carillon, which is purposed with letting the community know the church is there. The community values proclamation of its beliefs and reassurance of each other.
One has to wonder if the beliefs proclaimed were not “christian” if they would be as accepted by the outside community, and consequently if the proclaiming instrument would be different. Perhaps if the community felt less accepted they would choose a quieter instrument, like the piano, to be the congregation’s instrumental voice.
By Jeremiah Rupp