Alternatives to the Gloria in excelsis

VTS Seminary choir singing

In the Episcopal rites for the Holy Eucharist, following either the Collect for Purity or the Opening Acclamation (if the Collect for Purity is omitted in Rite Two), the Book of Common Prayer allows for the singing of a Kyrie (Lord, have mercy), a Trisagion (Holy Lord), a Gloria in excelsis, or “some other song of praise.” This is one of many instances in the prayer book in which the rubrics allow for great latitude in choosing music to fit the particular occasion. The song of praise is one particular opportunity for musical and textual variety within the rubrics of the prayer book ordo. Here are some suggestions for a song of praise as an alternative to the Gloria in excelsis.

1          Father, we praise thee (CHRISTE SANCTORUM)

6          Christ, whose glory fills the skies (CHRIST WHOSE GLORY)

9          Not here for high and holy things (MORNING SONG), stanzas 4-6; particularly effective in the fall

11       Awake, my soul (MORNING HYMN), stanzas 1-2

373     Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore him (AUSTRIA). This is the alternative tune suggested in the H82.

374     Come, let us join our cheerful songs (NUN DANKET ALL UND BRINGET HER). This metrical setting of Dignus Es would be wonderful for the Easter season

378     From all that dwell below the skies (OLD 100TH). This would be a good option for those hoping to ease out of “THE DOXOLOGY” at the presentation

399     To God with gladness sing (CAMANO). A metrical setting of the Venite would be a good choice and give the congregation to learn this wonderful tune by Richard Proulx.

408     Sing praise to God who reigns above (MIT FREUDEN ZART)

417     This is the feast (FESTIVAL CANTICLE). Use selected stanzas, changing each Sunday of a season.

421     All glory be to God on high (ALLEIN GOTT IN DER HOH). A metrical setting of the Gloria

444     Blest be the God of Israel (THORNBURY). A metrical setting of Canticle 16. This would be appropriate in Advent. It works well to LLANGLOFFAN.

532/3 How wondrous and great (OLD 104TH/LYONS). Old 104th is preferred since it is such a majestic tune and worthy to be taught to congregations

535     Ye servants of God (PADERBORN)

538     God of mercy, God of grace (LUCERNA LAUDONIAE). Chances are your congregation may not know this tune, but it would be worth using for a season so they can learn it.

546     Awake my soul, stretch every nerve (SIROE)

551     Rise up, ye saints of God (FESTAL SONG)

569     God the Omnipotent! (RUSSIA). Use stanzas 1-2.

755     The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases

782     Gracious Spirit, give your servants (ABBOTT’S LEIGH). This would make a great hymn of praise; however, due to its length, I would only use it if you omit the hymn in procession and do the acclamation and Collect for Purity from the back.

783     Heleluyan (MUSCOGEE INDIAN). This hymn could also be used before the Gospel.

784     Hallelujah! We sing your praises! (HALELUYA! PELO TSO NONA)

786     Cantad al Senor (CANTAD AO SENHOR). This is an excellent choice to get your congregation singing in Spanish. I would suggest using selected stanzas if doing as a Song of Praise.

821     Glory to God

822     Through north and south (LASST UNS ERFREUEN)

Ellen Johnston is Director of the Center for Liturgy and Music.