The signature feature of the beloved “Angels We Have Heard on High” is the soaring melisma on the refrain, “Gloria in excelsis deo.” In this festive arrangement for brass by quintet by Todd Marchand, the tune and refrain are presented multiple times in a variety of keys, harmonizations, and orchestration.
“Angels We Have Heard on High” (“Gloria”) is a Christmas carol based on an 18th-century French noel, “Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes.” The well-known English-language version of the carol with text by James Chadwick (1813-1882) retains the tune of the French noel, though Chadwick’s text is a largely original adaptation, with parts only loosely translated from the French.
The carol commemorates the birth of Jesus as told in the Gospel of St. Luke, and its chorus recalls the “multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest….’” (Luke 2:13-14). The signature feature of the chorus is a rising and falling melisma on the “o” vowel of “Gloria” — thus, the tune is often ascribed the name “Gloria.” Its familiar harmonization was written by the American organist and composer Edward Shippen Barnes (1887-1958) in 1937.
In this festive arrangement for brass by quintet by Todd Marchand, the tune and refrain are presented multiple times in a variety ofkeys, harmonizations, and orchestration.