As we continue our examination of the 2019 BCP Eucharistic Rite, you’ll remember that last week we spoke of the Kyrie. The Kyrie reminds us that we cannot — on our own — fulfill the great commandment, and so we ask for God’s mercy in our failure; asking with the sure and certain faith that His Grace is sufficient for the day.
Immediately following the Kyrie, we joyfully sing or passionionately proclaim the Gloria. In this moment, we join the humble shepherds outside of Bethlehem as the angels come to joyfully announce the birth of the Messiah! “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
As Anglican Christians, we place great emphasis upon the incarnation of God and the amazing, awesome, and mystical moment that God would take on human flesh to become man. In the Gloria, we worship God-become-man in the specific person of Jesus Christ.
No one knows for sure when or where the Gloria was developed in its present form, but it is often attributed to St. Hillary of Poitiers in the fourth century. However and by whoever it was developed, St. Jerome used it in his liturgy in the fifth century.
Like all great hymns, it is sung as both a form of worship and a proclamation of our faith in God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. One of the things I often say to When people ask: “What do Anglicans Believe?” one of the ways I often respond is to either recite the Nicene Creed or the Gloria.
In the earliest rites, the Gloria was placed where it is now — right after the Kyrie — but Archbishop Cranmer, in the 1549 BCP, moved it to the end of the Eucharist as a parting hymn of praise. Those who use the 1928 BCP will recognize this placement. The 1979 BCP brought it back to the beginning, and our 2019 BCP leaves it in that place, following the oldest forms.
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Gloria or some other song of praise may be sung or said, all standing. It is appropriate to omit the song of praise during penitential seasons and days appointed for fasting.
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,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Have a blessed week!