Listen to the beginner piano arrangement of Angels We Have Heard On High.
Angels We Have Heard on High is based on a traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos campagnes (literally, “Angels in our countryside”) composed by an unknown author in France. The song commemorates the story of the birth of Jesus Christ found in the Gospel of Luke, in which shepherds outside Bethlehem encounter a multitude of angels singing and praising the newborn child.
Angels We Have Heard on High is most commonly sung to the hymn tune “Gloria”, as arranged by Edward Shippen Barnes. Its most memorable feature is its chorus—Gloria in Excelsis Deo! (Latin for “Glory to God in the highest”)—where the sung vowel sound “o” of “Gloria” is fluidly sustained through a lengthy rising and falling melodic sequence. “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” is the first line of the song of the angels in Luke’s Gospel.
* This hymn arrangement is also available in our books: