But I feel there still remains a nagging doubt about that final paragraph: "Thou only art The Holy. Thou only art The Most High". The Byzantine Liturgy, in the response of the People before Communion, raises a similar question: heis Hagios, heis Kyrios, Iesous Christos ... When all is said and done, doesn't that leave an uneasy query in one's mind: we are addressing God the Son. So when we tell him that he alone is The Holy One; he alone is The Lord; he alone is The Most High ... well, isn't His Father (and the Holy Ghost) equally entitled to these honorifics? Jungmann explains "If we refer [these epithets] to Christ, they must also by that fact be claimed for the triune God". Indeed. Very True. But, again ... ...
Jungmann, writing, I think, during the Nazi tyranny, argues that "in the period when our hymn originated, such expressions very vividly outlined the sharp antithesis between our Catholic worship and heathen worship with its many loosely-given attributes of divinity, its many kyrioi, and its emperor-worship. Above and beyond all these creations of human fancy stands Jesus Christ, radiant and grand, the sole and only Lord. Our own day has great appreciation of this sublime contrast." [My italics.] Indeed. Jungmann's 'day' had more than its belly-full of Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer. In the context of such tyranny, isn't the final paragraph of the Gloria in excelsis still endowed with all its old subversive power? Does it not still breathe the spirit of all the Martyrs of all the ages? Is its truth not still increasingly necessary as liberal tyranny fastens its hold upon our own society, and even upon the Church?
So S Paul admits that in his society there are theoi polloi kai kyrioi polloi, but opposes to this heis Theos ho Pater, heis Kurios Iesous Christos (I Corinthians 8:5-6; cf Ephesians 4:5-6). Indeed, in syncretistic polytheistic cultures, there certainly are many Kyriai and many Kyrioi: Isis, Osiris, Sabazios, Mithras, Pachamamma ... All of whom the Christian radically rejects. Our shout inevitably and inexorably goes up "In Tiberim, in Tiberim". Splash Splash!! Sink Sink!!!
So 'only' and 'monos' and 'solus' clearly function as exclusionary and excluding dogmatic terms. They are profoundly and deliberately anti-ecumenical. That is their value and their immense strength. And, I would say, their necessity. Our society is focussed upon being 'inclusive', and this ambiguous 'virtue' (newly and cunningly manufactured in the laboratories of Hell) makes its way even into the religious sphere, where it encourages syncretism only yards from where S Peter bore his uninclusive Witness. But the ideologically powerful final paragraph of the Gloria in excelsis, which is not just poetry and not even solely prayer, is an unfurled dogmatic standard around which to gather in the battles ahead.
Jungmann realised this in Nazi Vienna. How clear is it to us here and to us now?
In the fourth and final section, I shall return to the Marian prayer Sub tuum praesidium.