Gloria in excelsis deo
The opening of the text recalls the words sung to God by the angels when they appeared to the
shepherds in Luke's narrative of Jesus' nativity. For this reason, it is sometimes marked Laus
angelorum in the manuscripts.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified....And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will." (Luke 2: 8-9; 13-14)
The rest of the hymn is composed of various acclamations of praise and supplications for mercy.
It ends with a trinitarian statement. The text of the hymn is:
Gloria in excelsis deo,
et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram patris miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus.
Tu solus Dominus.
Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you.
We bless you.
We adore you.
We glorify you.
We give thanks to you for your great glory.
Lord God, Heavenly King, God Almighty Father.
Lord Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
You who take away the sins of the world have mercy on us.
You who take away the sins of the world hear our prayer.
You who sit at the Father's right hand, have mercy on us.
For you alone are holy.
You alone, Lord.
You alone the Most High, Jesus Christ.
With the Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Unlike the hymn, Te deum laudamus, the Gloria was sung to a wide variety of
melodies. Modern scholars have catalogued well over two hundred of them. The various styles
employed for Gloria melodies may reflect different performance situations. Sometimes the
entire congregation sang the Gloria, sometimes a choir or soloists. A few of the extant
melodies are of a recitation style; others are through-composed melodies. And while some of the
melodies appear to be excellent for congregational singing, others are so florid they appear to
have been intended only for a choir or perhaps even soloists. Unfortunately, there is no way to
date most of these melodies or the manner in which they were sung.
David Hiley, Western Plainchant: A Handbook, (Oxford, 1993): 156-161.
Peter Wagner, Introduction to the Gregorian Melodies: A Handbook of Plainsong, trans.
Agnes Orme and E.G.P. Wyatt, 2nd edition, (New York, 1986): 67-70.
Joseph A. Jungmann, The Mass of the Roman Rite: Its Origins and Development, trans.
Francis A. Brunner, vol. 1, (New York, 1950): 346-359.
Richard L. Crocker, Gloria in excelsis, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and
Musicians, vol. 7, (1980): 450-452.