CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
Three 3 Sisters Sing ‘Gloria - Angels We Have Heard On High’
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Published December 2021



These sisters of Hinge Point sing praises to worship the Lord Jesus with a rendition of ‘Gloria -Angels We Have Heard on High.’

The origin of Angels We Have Heard on High.’

"Angels We Have Heard on High" is a Christmas carol to the hymn tune "Gloria" from a traditional French song of unknown origin called Les Anges dans nos campagnes, with paraphrased English lyrics by James Chadwick. The song's subject is the birth of Jesus Christ as narrated in the Gospel of Luke, specifically the scene in which shepherds outside Bethlehem encounter a multitude of angels singing and praising the newborn child.

In England, the words of James Montgomery's "Angels from the Realms of Glory" are usually sung to this tune, with the "Gloria in excelsis Deo" refrain text replacing Montgomery's. It is from this usage that the tune sometimes is known as "Iris", the name of Montgomery's newspaper.

The lyrics of "Angels We Have Heard on High" are inspired by, but not an exact translation of, the traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos campagnes (literally "the angels in our countryside"), whose first known publication was in 1843. "Angels We Have Heard On High" is the most-common English version, an 1862 paraphrase by James Chadwick, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, northeast England. Chadwick's lyrics are original in some sections, including the title, and loosely translated from the French in other sections. The carol quickly became popular in the West Country, where it was described as "Cornish" by R.R. Chope, and featured in Pickard-Cambridge's Collection of Dorset Carols. It has since been translated into other languages, and is widely sung and published. Modern hymnals usually include three verses.

"Gloria in excelsis Deo", Latin for "Glory to God in the Highest", is the first line of the song of the angels in the Gospel of Luke.

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!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be?
Which inspire your heavenly songs?
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!