Angels We Have Heard on High

Full Text

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?
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

3 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!


Source: Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #113

Text Information

First Line: Angels we have heard on high
Title: Angels We Have Heard on High
French Title: Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes
Meter: 7.7.7.7
Source: Traditional French carol
Place of Origin: France
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Gloria in excelsis Deo
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Opening Hymns

Notes

Scripture References:
all st. = Luke 2:8-15

"Les anges" is a French noel (from the Languedoc region) believed to date from the eighteenth century. Its text and tune were first published in the Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques in 1855. The English translation originated as a free imitation from the French by James Chadwick, which was adapted by Henri Hemy in his Roman Catholic collection, Crown of Jesus Music (1862). Of the original eight-stanza French text, stanzas 1, 2, and 4 are included.

The Christmas gospel in Luke 2:8-15 is the basis for the text. The hymn's refrain, "Gloria in excelsis Deo" is the first part of the angels' chorus in Luke 2: 14; it is one of the few Latin phrases in common use in Protestant churches.

Liturgical Use:
Christmas season; in "carols from many lands" choral services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook, 1987

=====================

Angels we have heard on high. [Christmas. ] This appears to be a Christmas Carol. It is found in the Crown of Jesus, 1862, No. 138. Other forms are:—
1. The angels we have heard on high. In the Holy Family Hymns, 1860, No. 9, marked as by the Rev. J. Chadwick.
2. Bright angels we have heard on high, In the Parochial Hymn Book, 1880, No. 38.
3. Bright angel hosts are heard on high. In R. R. Chope's Carols, 1875, No, 30, marked as "Cornish, alt. by R. R. C."
We are unable to say which is the original form of the text. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)

Tune

GLORIA (French)

GLORIA is the French noel tune traditionally associated with this text. The popularity of this carol stems from its refrain–all those cascading phrases in which human beings imitate the angels' chorus. Try using the refrain by itself as a short choral introit during the Christmas season, perhaps w…

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Timeline

Media

Baptist Hymnal 1991 #100
The Cyber Hymnal #186
  • Adobe Acrobat image (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer score (NWC)
  • XML score (XML)
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #347
Timeless Truths #749
  • Angels_We_Have_Heard_on_High.sib (SIB, Scorch)
Worship and Rejoice #188

Instances

Instances (37)TextImageAudioScoreFlexscore
African American Heritage Hymnal #206Image
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #100TextImageAudioScore
Baptist Hymnal 2008 #184TextImage
Celebrating Grace Hymnal #125Image
Celebration Hymnal #278Image
Chalice Hymnal #155Text
Christian Worship: a Lutheran hymnal #63Text
Christmas Favorites #21
Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary #116Text
Evangelical Lutheran Worship #289Image
Gather (3rd ed.) #430Image
Gather Comprehensive #347Text
Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #361
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #113TextImageAudio
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #96TextImage
Hymns of Faith #136TextImage
Lead Me, Guide Me (2nd ed.) #246
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #82ImageAudio
Lutheran Service Book #368Text
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #23TextImage
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #347TextImageAudioScore
Rejoice in the Lord #206Text
Revival Hymns and Choruses #153
Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #142
Sing Joyfully #206TextImage
Sing With Me #90Text
Songs for Life #133Text
The Christian Life Hymnal #99
The Covenant Hymnal: a worshipbook #162
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #132
The New Century Hymnal #125Image
The United Methodist Hymnal #238TextImage
The Worshiping Church #152TextImage
Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #214TextImage
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #38Text
Worship and Rejoice #188TextImageAudioScore
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #64