Back during Christmas time, we came across a new arrangement of the “Gloria in excelsis” with some very impressive musical elements. Although the Christmas season just came to an end with the Celebration of the Baptism of our Lord, we felt the musicianship behind this track was too good to wait a whole year to note.
Composed by Scott Goudeau, a veteran guitarist who is well-known in the New Orleans music scene, “Gloria (Luke 2)” features impressive progressive guitar licks and wonderful vocal harmonies. The work is an excellent effort to bring the musical traditions of the Nativity story into the 21st century, combining aspects of historical sacred music with more modern instrumentation.
The tune opens up with a few guitar licks that made us think of Yngwie Malmsteen, as Goudeau shows off a technical mastery of his instrument. The tune then jumps into the chorus melody, which is one of the most memorable and easily singable melodies written for the Gloria text that we’ve heard from the last 50 years.
Our favorite part comes halfway through, when the accompaniment drops off and a round of voices sings through the chorus. This moment, which builds intensity, gives way to a thrilling guitar solo that gives Van Halen a run for his money. From this point forward Goudeau offers up his virtuoso talent to glorify the text with a flurry of guitar fills until the song fades out.
The music, Scott said, came to him in a dream:
“I had just completed work on an original liturgical chant of the Gloria when, in an early morning dream, an entirely different song on the theme of the nativity came to me, in almost completed form. I awoke and began putting my new inspiration on paper, and suddenly it occurred to me that the newly-dreamed verses worked perfectly in tandem with my just completed Gloria chanted refrain.”
Goudeau has been an active musician since he was 15 years old. Proficient in a variety of styles, he’s played with some big names in the industry, including Harry Connick Jr., Bernadette Peters, and Engelbert Humperdink. Around the turn of the century, Scott withdrew from secular music, feeling a calling towards a different vocation. He told the Diocese of Nashville:
“I had a good career in the secular music world,” Goudeau said. “I was well-known in the Louisiana music scene. I was playing for Allen Touissant and other famous local musicians. I was writing music. I had my own band. I was a producer. I was doing audio engineering. And I felt God calling me to step away from all of it. I talked to my family about it and they supported me. I didn’t play or do anything related to music for about 6 months.”
In the following years he moved to Nashville and has since become very involved with the community at St. Stephen Church in Old Hickory, where he serves as both musical and RCIA director. As of 2015, he was working on his catechetical certification, which he was expected to receive by 2016. Of his work with St. Stephen’s, Goudeau said:
“I wear two different hats at St. Stephen’s, but my two jobs there are related in a way. As an RCIA instructor, I’m trying to teach people about the faith. And as the music director preparing for the liturgy, I’m trying to connect the music for Mass to Scripture,” Goudeau said. “So I hope that the music I write teaches others about Catholicism, and that I can use it to hand on the faith to others in a clear and succinct way.”