December 12 – Angels We Have Heard On High (A Christmas Carol Advent)





The words for this song come from a traditional French carol titled Les Anges dans nos campagnes.  The earliest  printed version of the French carol is from 1842, though many believe it was likely written in the 18th century.  The most common English translation was done by James Chadwick in 1862.

Commentary & Analysis

The title of this song comes from the first line, but at its core, this song praises God with the refrain “Gloria in excelsis Deo” translated as “Glory to God in the Highest.”  Each verse speaks to some of the visitors at the birth of Christ and encourages them to give “glory to God in the highest.”  The first verse speaks of the angels who came and announced the birth of Jesus.  It speaks of the delight they must have felt at the privilege of announcing the birth of Christ.  The second verse speaks to the shepherds who received the good news of Christ’s birth asking where their great joy comes from.  The answer, of course, from God in the Highest.  The final two verses speak to a more general group of people encouraging them to adore to King and raise their hearts in love to God.  This song serves to remind us at this Christmastime that hearts should be full of worship for our God most High.

Questions for further Reflection / Devotion

The following questions are meant for your reflection and or devotion.  Feel free to meditate on them, discuss them with your family or others or post your responses here.  I would love to hear from you.

  1. How do you worship God in how you choose to celebrate Christmas?
  2. What physical thing can you do this Christmas to raise your heart to God in love?
  3. The refrain of this song sings “glory to God in the highest.”  How can you make this the goal of your life?
  4. How does God get glory through your life?
  5. This Christmas morning, take some time to pray to God.  Recognize his majesty and greatness and thank him for everything he has done for us.


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

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why these songs of happy cheer?
What great brightness did you see?
What glad tiding did you hear?
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 new-born King.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

See him in a manger laid
Whom the angels praise above;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While we raise our hearts in love.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Return to a Christmas Carol Advent index page.

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