A Guide to the Complete English Translation of the "Gloria"

One of the Most Popular Christian Hymns

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The Gloria is a well-known song that has long been integrated into the Mass of the Catholic Church. Many other Christian churches have adopted versions of it as well and it is a popular song for Christmas, Easter, and other special church services throughout the world. 

The Gloria is a beautiful hymn with a long and rich history. Written in Latin, many people are familiar with the opening line, "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," but there is much more to it than that. Let's explore this timeless hymn and learn how the lyrics translate into English.

Translation of the Gloria

The Gloria dates back to a 2nd-century Greek text. It also appeared in the Apostolic Constitution as a “morning prayer” circa 380 AD. A Latin version appeared in the "Bangor Antiphonary" that was thought to have been written in Northern Ireland around 690. It is still significantly different than the text we use today. The text we commonly use now dates back to a Frankish source in the 9th century. 

Latin English
Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Et in terra pax Glory in the highest to God. And on earth peace
hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. to men of good will. We praise thee. We bless thee.
Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi We worship thee. We glorify Thee. Thanks we give to thee
propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, Rex coelestis, because of great glory thy. Lord God, King of heaven,
Deus Pater omnipotens. Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. God Father Almighty. Lord Son only begotten, Jesus Christ.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris. Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of Father.
Qui tollis peccata Mundi, miserere nobis. Who take away sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Qui tollis peccata Mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Who take away sins of the world, receive supplication our.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Who sits at the right hand of Father, have mercy on us.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. For thou alone holy. Thou alone Lord.
Tu solus altisimus, Jesu Christe. Thou alone most high, Jesus Christ.
Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris. Amen. With Holy Spirit in the glory of God Father. Amen.

The Melody of the Gloria

In services, the Gloria may be recited though it is most often set to a melody. It may be a capella, accompanied by an organ, or sung by a full choir. Over the centuries, the melodies have varied just as much as the words themselves. During medieval times, it is believed that over 200 variations existed.

In church liturgy today, the Gloria is sung in a variety of ways and incorporated into a number of congregational masses, including The Galloway Mass. Some churches prefer a style that it is more of a chant which may be sung in response between a leader and the choir or congregation. It is also common for the congregation to repeat only the opening line while the choir sings other portions of the hymn.

The Gloria has been so integrated into religious services that it has inspired and been incorporated into a number of famous composer's works. One of the best-known is the "Mass in B Minor," written in 1724 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). This orchestral work is considered one of the greatest songs and is the subject of many studies in musical history.

Another famous work was written by Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741). Quite of known simply as "The Vivaldi Gloria," the best known of the composer's renditions is "The Gloria RV 589 in D Major," which was written sometime around 1715.