December 19, 2022

Christmas and Advent Hymns and their Story

“Angels we have Heard on High”

The author of this wonderful hymn is, sadly, unknown. The earliest date for this carol is approximately 1842. It appeared in France as part of a ten stanza song with the refrain “Gloria in excelsis Deo.”
Again, sadly, the English translator is also unknown. It appeared in the Holy Family Hymnal , a Catholic Hymnal published in London in 1860. In “the Crown of Jesus” [London, 1862], the lyrics were changed to single syllables that the text would better fit the tune, and thereby, the wondrous hymn we know as “Angels we have heard on High” was born for us today.
Based, for the most part, around Luke 2:8-14, we read about shepherds who “go with haste to see what the angels proclaimed”. They talked among themselves, and maybe even those whom they met along the way. This has become a treasured and beloved Christmas hymn for so many today, with each short verse accompanied by the refrain “Gloria in excelsis Deo”; Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” [Luke 2:14]
The lyrics take great effort to teach us about God’s great love for us; “anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” [1st John 4:8].

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.

LSB 368

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *