Christ in the Carols – Angels We Have Heard on High

This is easily one of my favorite Christmas carols. I know, I know – I seem to say that a lot, but there are so many to like!

One reason this one appeals to me so much, is because it feels like you ought to dance when you sing it. (okay, for me anyway). I want to toss my hands up into the air like King David and dance around praising God. That certainly doesn’t fit the vision of Victorian carolers in their hats and scarves singing in perfect harmony, does it?

Some interesting things come from the study of this particular carol.

1. Most of the melody and text are taken from an 18th century French carol (or so most historians agree)

2. The chorus of this carol, however, is much older. Gloria in excelsis Deo – can be traced back very far. In fact, it’s word for word Scripture – from what the angels sang to the shepherds on the night of Christ’s birth. Some believe singing this particular phrase can be dated back to the 3rd century. WOW! Just imagine people that close to Jesus’ death singing the very same words we sing today. We ARE all one body of Christ 🙂

another interesting fact about this carol is that there are two different versions. I just learned the second (and newer) – which seems to be more British. Let me list them both so you can enjoy the difference. It’s a wonderful carol that tells a wonderful story through song.

VERSION ONE

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

Refrain

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? Refrain

3. Come to Bethlehem and see
Him1 whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King. Refrain

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.2 Refrain

VERSION TWO

1. Angels we have heard on high
Singing sweetly through the night,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their brave delight.

Refrain

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

2. Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tidings did you hear? Refrain

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

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

So, do you have a favorite version?

What fabulous words? Thanks to www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com for the words and some info.

thanks to www.worshiphousemedia for the awesome pics. I LOVE The last one.

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