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Who Wrote and Composed “Angels We Have Heard on High”

“Angels We Have Heard on High” is a popular Christmas carol that celebrates the story of the birth of Jesus, in particular the story of the shepherds near Bethlehem encountering a multitude of angels. The feature of the song is the chorus “Gloria in Excelsis Deo!” which the o sound of Gloria is sung with a rising and falling sequence. This song has been covered by numerous artists and has remained one of the most popular Christmas songs since it was written. Let’s find out who wrote and composed this popular Christmas carol.

Who wrote “Angels We Have Heard on High”?

Interestingly, the original composer of the carol is unknown. The English version of the carol is based on the French carol known as Les Anges dans nos campagnes (English: Angels in our countryside). The author is unknown, but we do know that it was composed in Languedoc, France sometime in the 18th century. The modern English version was translated and adapted in 1862 by James Chadwick, a Roman Catholic Bishop in northeast England. It quickly became popular in England and eventually spread around the world.

Who composed “Angels We Have Heard on High”?
The most common composition for this carol is the hymn tune “Gloria” which was arranged by American organist Edward Shippen Barnes. This tune is also used for James Montgomery’s “Angels from the Realms of Glory” in England, but it does not use the chorus portion of the composition.

Did you know?
The original French version is believed to have come from a tradition amongst French shepherds that would call out “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” to each other on Christmas Eve.

“Angels We Have Heard on High” has been covered thousands of times since it was first written in the 19th century. Some of the recent artists to cover this song are Bad Religion, Jewel, Josh Groban and Christina Aguilera.

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