Gloria in Excelsis Deo

Gloria in excelsis Deo (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”) is a hymn originating from the bible.  It is also known as the Greater Doxology and the Angelic Hymn.  This hymn is typical of compositions that were popular in the 2nd and 3rd centuries and is estimated to have been written around that time.  It was also during this era (~ 130 A.D) when Pope Telesphorus used this hymn on Christmas day during the celebration, and since then it has been known as a Christmas song.

Although the song was created long before people celebrated Christmas, it is about the birth of Christ, and is now generally accepted as a Christmas carol.  It is used in other religious services throughout the year like Easter however so it is not exclusively a Christmas song.

Although we know Gloria in excelsis Deo by one tune, experts estimate that this hymn has been sung to over two hundred different melodies depending on the time and culture.  Because this is such and old hymn, and sung in so many different cultures, it is a truly traditional Christmas song.  Dating back almost two hundred years, listening to it is a sure fire way to get yourself in the holiday spirit.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

1. Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?


3. Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.


4. See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.

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