Gloria in Excelsis / Glory to God in the Highest

The Gloria in Excelsis is a song of praise used in the Divine Service. It’s origin is in the eastern or Greek churches where it was first used as a song of praise in daily morning prayer. In the western churches it is used as the song of praise at the beginning of the Divine Service. It is a song of praise that begins with the text of the song of the angels on Christmas night. It addresses Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father’s supreme rule, the Son’s sacrifice and his sitting at his Father’s right hand over all things. It is sometimes called “the greater Gloria” in contrast to the “Gloria Patri.” 

Here is the English text from the Book of Common Prayer:

Glory be to God on high,
and on earth peace, good will towards men.

We praise thee,
we bless thee,
we worship thee,
we glorify thee,
we give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.

O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
that takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father,
have mercy upon us.

For thou only art holy;
thou only art the Lord;
thou only, O Christ,
with the Holy Ghost,
art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

Here is the English text from English Language Liturgical Consultation, 1988, which is the basis for most modern liturgical music. Some textual changes from the Book of Common Prayer were done to avoid some repetition of phrases, and to be closer also to the Greek text.

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.

Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you,
we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.

Lord Jesus Christ,
only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.

For you alone are the Holy One,
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

 

In Greek:

Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ
καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.

Ὑμνοῦμέν σε,
εὐλογοῦμέν σε,
προσκυνοῦμέν σε,
δοξολογοῦμέν σε,
εὐχαριστοῦμέν σοι, διὰ τὴν μεγάλην σου δόξαν.
Κύριε Βασιλεῦ, ἐπουράνιε Θεέ, Πάτερ παντοκράτορ,

Κύριε Υἱὲ μονογενές, Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ, καὶ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα.
Κύριε ὁ Θεός, ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὁ Υἱός τοῦ Πατρός,
ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου, ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς,
ὁ αἴρων τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ κόσμου.
Πρόσδεξαι τὴν δέησιν ἡμῶν,
ὁ καθήμενος ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ Πατρός, καὶ ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.
Ὅτι σὺ εἶ μόνος Ἅγιος,
σὺ εἶ μόνος Κύριος,
Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ Πατρός.
Ἀμήν.

In Latin:

Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonæ voluntátis.

Laudámus te,
benedícimus te,
adorámus te,
glorificámus te,
grátias ágimus tibi propter magnam glóriam tuam,
Dómine Deus, Rex cæléstis,
Deus Pater omnípotens.

Dómine Fili unigénite, Jesu Christe,
Dómine Deus, Agnus Dei, Fílius Patris,
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.

Quóniam tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dóminus,
tu solus Altíssimus,
Jesu Christe,
cum Sancto Spíritu: in glória Dei Patris. Amen.

The Gloria in Excelsis has been set to music thousands of times. Any piece of music called a Mass or a Divine Service would include it. Here it is from Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

And here it is in German by Michael Praetorius:

It is also been the subject of contemporary or folk settings. Here is a setting by Ricky Manalo:

And here it is in Latin as a Gregorian chant:

Along with settings of the prose texts and translations, the Gloria in Excelsis has also been paraphrased into the form of a hymn. Here is “Allein Gott in der Hoh, sei Ehr,” which has been used as the German Gloria since the time of the Reformation:

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pastorstratman

Lutheran pastor serving St. Stephen's in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

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