347. Angels We Have Heard on High

1 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.

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

1 Les anges dans nos campagnes,
ont entonn‚ l'hymne des cieux,
et l'‚cho de nos montagnes,
redit ce chant m‚lodieux. Refrain

2 Bergers, pour qui cette fˆte?
Quel est l'objet de tous ces chants?
Quel vainqueur, quelle conquˆte
m‚rite ces cris triomphants? Refrain

3 Cherchons tous l'heureux village
qui l'a vu naŒtre sous ses toits;
offronslui le tendre hommage
et de nos c urs et de nos voix! Refrain

Text Information
First Line: Angels we have heard on high (Les anges dans nos campagnes)
Title: Angels We Have Heard on High
French Title: Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes
Refrain First Line: Gloria in excelsis Deo
Meter: 77 77 with refrain
Language: English; French
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ;
Topic: Biblical Names & Places: Bethlehem; King, God/Christ as; Songs for Children: Hymns (4 more...)
Source: French, 18th cent.; tr. Crown of Jesus Music, 1862, alt.
Tune Information
Arranger: Edward S. Barnes (1937)
Meter: 77 77 with refrain
Key: F Major
Source: French, 18th century

Text Information:

Scripture References:
all st. = Luke 2:8-15

"Les anges" is a French noel (from the Languedoc region) believed to date from the eighteenth century. Its text and tune were first published in the Nouveau Recueil de Cantiques in 1855. The English translation originated as a free imitation from the French by James Chadwick, which was adapted by Henri Hemy in his Roman Catholic collection, Crown of Jesus Music (1862). Of the original eight-stanza French text, stanzas 1, 2, and 4 are included.

The Christmas gospel in Luke 2:8-15 is the basis for the text. The hymn's refrain, "Gloria in excelsis Deo" is the first part of the angels' chorus in Luke 2: 14; it is one of the few Latin phrases in common use in Protestant churches.

Liturgical Use:
Christmas season; in "carols from many lands" choral services.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

GLORIA is the French noel tune traditionally associated with this text. The popularity of this carol stems from its refrain–all those cascading phrases in which human beings imitate the angels' chorus. Try using the refrain by itself as a short choral introit during the Christmas season, perhaps with the Baroque performance practice of dotted rhythms to add a subtle touch of beauty! The repeat of the melody in the refrain permits variation in performance; for example, a small choir in the balcony could sing the first refrain line, and the entire group could join in on the second refrain line (the effect of a few angels beginning the hymn and then being joined by more and more angels). Play with light organ registration until the refrain.

The tune is also known as IRIS because of its association with James Montgomery's "Angels from the Realms of Glory" (354), which was first printed in the Sheffield Iris (Montgomery, ed.).

The harmonization is by Edward S. Barnes (b. Seabright, NJ, 1887; d. Idyllwild, CA, 1958) and was first published in The New Church Hymnal (1937). Barnes studied at the Lawrenceville School, Yale University, and the Schola Cantorum in Paris. He was organist and choirmaster at two New York City churches – Church of the Incarnation and Rutgers Presbyterian – and in Philadelphia at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church. From 1938 to 1954 he served as organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, California. Barnes contributed to the Presbyterian Handbook to the Hymnal (1935) and wrote piano and vocal works as well as anthems and liturgical music.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

MIDI file: MIDI Preview
(Faith Alive Christian Resources)
More media are available on the text authority and tune authority pages.

Suggestions or corrections? Contact us


It looks like you are using an ad-blocker. Ad revenue helps keep us running. Please consider white-listing Hymnary.org or subscribing to eliminate ads entirely and help support Hymnary.org.