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Second-century pope: Sing special hymn announcing birth of Christ

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Posted: Saturday, December 29, 2012 12:00 am

"Gloria in Excelsis Deo" is the Latin version of what the angels sang on the night of the Nativity. "Glory to God in the Highest" announces the birth of Christ.

The words in the verse form of Psalms are traditional. In fact, Pope Telesphoros, whose pontificate is placed at about 125-126 A.D., supposedly ordained that all should sing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" on Christmas. (St. Telesphoros is the only second-century pope whose martyrdom is historically verifiable.)

The present tune is an arrangement of a French carol melody, whereas the choral refrain may have been taken from a Latin chorale of the late medieval period. The melody is impressive in its simplicity.

The joyousness of the rhythm brings to mind children's voices, clear and melodious — a genuine echo of the angelic choir on that starry night overlooking Christ's birth.

The text — considered one of the great prose hymns of Christmas — begins with the angelic hymn from the account of the Nativity in Luke 2:13-14. The whole text is usually construed in three sections — first, praise to God the Father; second, a Christological section; third, the concluding Trinitarian clause.

In the traditional Latin Tridentine Mass, the hymn of praise was sung directly after the Kyrie on festal occasions. Counted as part of the Ordinary of the Mass, the Gloria was provided with more than 50 chant settings during the Middle Ages. The chant melodies are among the more important of medieval chants.

In contrast, the 10 Planks of "The Communist Manifesto" glorify the state, man's politics. Know the counterfeit — especially No. 5. Antichrist power? Temporal economics.

All glory, holiness and worship belong to our Triune God — the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Ghost. Only He preserves nations (Isaiah 9:6).

Ron Arthur

Lodi

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