Ok, so I’m taking a little different twist for todays set of carols. Yes, two of them are about angels, and that’s a good theme for Christmas. But that’s not the reason for my choosing them all. It is why I started with Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Angels we have heard on high as my initial choice for this day, but then I got to thinking, what about the Gloria???
I know that’s not a question many will ask, but what about songs that have gloria in them? I know that for me, especially when I was a kid, I loved singing the glorias! And it’s fun to sing in a different language (for little bits, it’s not necessarily as fun when it’s a whole song…). So, today, we’re talking about angels and glorias.
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
One of the reasons those of us who grew up in the Wesleyan church is because it was written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley. The two of them traveled the Great Britain and North American countrysides, holding open air revival meetings. Both of them wrote hymns, though Charles Wesley wrote many more.
If we heard Wesley’s version of the hymn, we would not recognize it. The music was different as were some of the lyrics, including the opening line. It was George Whitfield who changed the opening line and Felix Mendelsohnn who later set the lyrics to the tune we all sing and know today.
Our arrangement for today is one that I did on my Christmas Album, “When The Snow Falls” (Which is available on iTunes). I wanted to make an arrangement that musically echoed some of the feelings the angels would have conjured up in the shepherds that night.
These next two are the songs with the Glorias! We sing the Latin in the chorus of this song, and the translation is simply, “Glory to God in the highest.” The interesting thing, musically speaking, about the glorias is that they are called melismas. This is where you sing one syllable of a word over an elongated moving melody. The next time you sing this song, you can say “don’t you enjoy the melismatic nature of the glorias?”
Angels We Have Heard On High
The english version we sing today was translated by James Chadwick in 1862, though there are earlier versions of the song that are in different languages, with different lyrics and even a different melody.
Ding Dong Merrily On High
This carol is much older, in fact the oldest of the carol we have talked about so far in our series, at least musically speaking. The music was written in the 15oo’s and the lyrics published much later in 1924.