An Ancient Faith for Modern Times

Holy Communion: The Gloria

We continue now with our teaching on our liturgy of Holy Communion (Eucharist) as found in the 2019 ACNA Book of Common Prayer.

To put this in context, we have begun the service with the Processional Hymn and the Acclamation. We then focus our hearts together to perfectly love God through the Collect for Purity. This leads us to acknowledging that our hearts are sinful and we need forgiveness as we review the Decalogue or the Summary of the Law, in this we turn to ask Christ our Lord for mercy in The Kyrie

Having asked for mercy from Christ, we now turn our attention to praising and exhaling the greatness of God in The Gloria. This is one of the most ancient hymns of the Christian Faith and comes from Luke 2:14 where the multitude of Angels proclaim, ““Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” We do not know knows who composed the rest of the lyrics for the Gloria, but the rest of the hymn can be traced back to the third century of the Church. Tradition holds that it was first composed as a prayer in the East and translated to Latin by Saint Hilary of Poitiers around the year 360.

What is beautiful about traditional Christian (and in our case Anglican) worship is that we are worshipping with the heavenly host in our Holy Communion service. We are connected to the eternal and while we worship here on Earth, we are connected with the host of heaven worshiping God before his holy throne. 

This hymn is often referred to as “the angelic hymn,” as it was sung by the angels for the birth of Christ in the Gospel of Luke. It is an ancient hymn of praise as it is filled with a series of joyful proclamations addressed to the Father. The context is also on we, not the individual, we corporately as a body and with the heavenly host worship God, “we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.” This hymn goes on to implore the mercy of the Son, who is the Lamb of God, and takes away the sins of the world.

Gazing on Christ, the we corporately as a body praise him: “You alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, You alone are the Most High.” The Gloria concludes with proclaiming the mystery of the Trinity: “Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.” And brings us back to the context of heaven and worship before the throne.

Glory to God in the highest,
and peace to his people on earth.
Lord God, heavenly King,
almighty God and Father,
we worship you, we give you thanks,
we praise you for your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father,
Lord God, Lamb of God,
you take away the sin of the world:
have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father:
receive our prayer.
For you alone are the Holy One, 
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. 


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