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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

BONUS: Behind Great Carols, "Angels We Have Heard on High"

Long ago, shepherds in France had an interesting Christmas tradition. They would stand on their hills calling to one another on Christmas Eve, each from his own peak, singing "Gloria in excelsis Deo, gloria in excelsis Deo," just as the angels might have first announced the birth of Christ. 

The traditional tune the shepherds used is now the refrain of "Angels We Have Heard on High." The music for the verses comes from a different source, a popular tune of the 1800’s, as does the text itself, which is an old French carol "Les Anges dans Nos Campagnes."  They were first published together in a carol collection dated 1855. 

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
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 among those with whom he is pleased!”  - Luke 2:8-14

Here it is from PentaTonix:

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