Sunday, 15 July 2012

Worthy of Praise and Glory

This week I'd like to share with you a lovely Latin doxology that has blessed me greatly. I love the old hymns of the early Church centuries. There is something about them that is not matched in later Church music, most especially in our time. These old Church chants and hymns, including, for example, the Gregorian chants, were simple but so deep and profound all at the same time. Their melodies are so deep, they touch the heart and soul. They are so reverent and truly worthy of the greatness of our Lord, God, and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Many of them were also sung by the martyrs in the early centuries - that's how early they are. Yet they are still just as new for us now.

The one I'm sharing today is 'Gloria in Excelsis Deo'. It is sung by the choir, Libera. The melody is based on Saint-Saens's Organ Symphony. 

Here is a short history of this hymn: 
The Gloria is an ancient hymn of praise to the Trinity that has been in use in the Church since the second century. The opening line of the hymn is taken from Scripture (Lk 2:14), where the angels announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds. The hymn was composed in Greek some time in the second century and can be found recommended as a daily morning prayer in book VII of the Apostolic Constitutions (3rd/4th century). It was introduced to the west by St. Hilary of Poitiers (d 368), who was the first to introduce hymns into the Western Church. 
St Hillary was an uncompromising foe of Arianism, a heresy which denied the divinity of Christ and was condemned at the Council of Nicea in 325. St. Hilary's opposition to Arianism earned himself the title of "Malleus Arianorum", the Hammer of the Arians, along with the ire of the Arian Emperor Constantius, who exiled him to Phrygia in 356. While St. Hilary was in Phrygia, he was exposed to the hymns in use amongst the eastern Christians of the time. Upon his return home he began to introduce hymns into the western liturgy, borrowing the Gloria from the east, as well as composing some of his own. The Latin translation of the Gloria below, which has been used since the late 4th century, is likely his.

Here is a close translation of the Latin Lyrics (as best as I could make them out): 

Glory to God in the Highest
And on earth peace to men
We bless Thee, we praise Thee
We worship Thee, we glorify Thee

1. Thanks we give to Thee
Because of Thy great glory

For Thou alone art Holy, 
Thou Lord alone, Most High

Chorus: Gloria in excelsis deo....

2. Who take away the sin of the world, 
Have mercy on us
Who sits at the right hand of the Father, 
Have mercy on us

Father God, Almighty 
Lamb of God
King of Heaven, Father God

Chorus: Gloria in excelsis deo... 
Here are the original lyrics of the hymn and the translation:

GLORIA in excelsis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.GLORY to God in the highest, and peace on earth to men of good will.
LAUDAMUS te, benedicimus te, adoramus te, glorificamus te, gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam, Domine Deus, Rex caelestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.WE praise Thee, we bless Thee, we adore Thee, we glorify Thee, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
DOMINE Fili unigenite, Iesu 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.O Lord Jesus Christ, only begotten Son, Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, Thou who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us; Thou who takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer. Thou who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
QUONIAM tu solus Sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Iesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. AmenFOR Thou alone art the Holy One, Thou alone art the Lord, Thou alone art the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Taken from:

God bless, 


Shaz in Oz.CalligraphyCards said...

ah very lovely indeed Sarah but do enjoy the words more when they are in English as think the language of the people as spoken really allows fuller worship than hearing the Latin words.. and for this reason men suffered for preserving Gods word int the language of the people like first English translation of John Wycliffe etc music is very, very beautiful though, and a thought provoking post thanks for sharing, Shaz xx

Sarah said...

Fully agree with you, Shaz! That's why I put the translation in. But you know, at that time Latin was the language of the people. Even in other parts of the empire it was a second language, probably much like English it is today. As time went by and the latin was replaced with other European languages as the common tongue, the words of many these beautiful hymns became lost to the people. Unfortunately, the Roman Church leadership, for their own worldly reasons, kept the word hidden from them. Hence the need for the Godly reformers to translate the Word into the vernacular.
I personally love languages, so I find really interesting to hear praises to the Lord in different languages...'from every tongue and tribe' and age.
Probably, also, being a historian, I love to experience what those Godly people of that time sang their praises to God in their own language even in face of death and suffering.
I'm glad you enjoyed this post, though. Thanks for your encouragement:)

Much love,

Maddy said...

Dear Sarah,
Truly, there is something very special about these old hymns, as you shared - their deep reverence and praise of the Lord God; and their fixed gaze on Him, which doesn't falter and turn to man. Oh, for more such hymns in our own day. And yet - why do we need new ones, when we have these which were sung in praise by brethren before us! Thank you for sharing these words and prayers of praise.
Blessed be His name.
Love in Him,

Maddy said...

PS. The heading of your blog is lovely!

Sarah said...

Dear Maddy,
Yes, we do need more appreciation of the old hymns as well as the new. We do need to sing new songs to the Lord, too. The Bible commands us to sing to the Lord 'a new song.' Though God gives a new song for every season and every age. However, one cannot deny, that the old songs have the element of the fear of God and spiritual depth that many of the new lack (that includes the music). We need to ask the Lord to give us new songs in our hearts and to revive the old in our hearts, too.

In Him,

Maddy said...

Thank you for sharing this, Sarah. Amen. And in our generation His name is still praised and worshipped in true reverence, through the mighty working of the Holy Spirit. May He give us a new song in our hearts. Blessed be His name

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