This popular Christmas carol is a loose reinvention of the French carol, Les Anges dans nos Campagnes (literally translated to, “the angels in our countryside”). Both the melody and the lyrics are clearly inspired but the French original, but just a little too loose to be considered a real translation. Many of the lyrics are modifications to the narration of the Gospel of Luke.

Pentatonix performing Angels We Have Heard On High from the album A Pentatonix Christmas (Deluxe) (2017).

The English version is attributed to , Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in 1862, and became notable as a West County carol and as a Dorset carol, described as “Cornish”, referencing specific regional western English culture. As the song traveled, it developed away from its French inspiration, shifting from the tune of Les Anges dans nos Campagnes to the tune of Edward Shippen Barnes’ hymnal, Gloria in excelsis Deo. The Barnes arrangement is the melody that is widely known and loved today.


Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly swinging o'er the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Shepherds why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
Say what may the tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King

Gloria In Excelsis Deo
Gloria In Excelsis Deo

See within in a manger laid
Jesus Lord of heav'n and earth
Mary, Joseph lend your aid
With us sing our Savior's birth