Within Lutheranism we have a rich history of having the Gospel in the forefront of what takes place during the Divine Service. This Gospel is born to God’s people in several ways, namely, through Christ proclaimed and heard (in Absolution, the Scriptures, and the Sermon), and Christ given and received (in The Blessed and Holy Sacrament). These are the means of grace with which we, as Lutherans, are very familiar. Christ, however, is also born to God’s people through the Liturgy which we as Lutheran’s dare to “religiously maintain and defend.” The new hymnal of our Church, Lutheran Service Book (LSB), enlightens us to this fact by displaying source text for the pieces of the Liturgy, for example, the source for the Invocation (In the name of the Father…) is given as Matthew 28:19b. We, as God’s people and in His Service to us, repeat back to Him the words which He has given to us, when He comes to us.
The Gloria in Excelsis Deo, Latin for “Glory to God in the highest,” is such a piece of the Liturgy. It comes to us from Luke 2:14 and John 1:29. We learn much from singing this every Sunday. It’s Trinitarian and it has some creedal statements. In the Gloria, as is evident, we weekly sing the same song as the angels, and, at the same time, we play the part of the shepherds. When we hear the Gloria we quickly run to see that of which they spoke in the readings of Scripture where the Word comes to us. We in the Gloria dare to be both shepherds and angels – singing the praise of Christ who came once and comes again, and those who run to see what has taken place. We learn this every week when we dare to sing the Gloria in Excelsis Deo.
Glory be to God on high: And on earth peace, good will toward men.
We praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we glorify Thee,
We give thanks to Thee, for Thy great glory.
O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
That takest away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us.
Thou that takest away the sin of the world, receive our prayer.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
For thou only art holy; Thou only art the Lord.
Thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father.