What does In Excelsis Deo even mean?!

What does In Excelsis Deo even mean?!

Glo-o-o-o-o-ooooo-ria in excelsis Deooo

Picture this: It’s a festive December. You are driving down the road alone in the car when a classic Christmas song comes on the radio. You’ve heard it a hundred times before so without much thought you jump right in on the chorus with a rousing Glo-o-o-o-o-ooooo-ria in excelsis Deo”!! 

Can you relate? 

If you can, you’re in good company. I think we’ve ALL done it! 

That Christmas carol, titled “Angels We Have Heard On High,” is a classic for the holiday season…and it’s a catchy one at that!  A quick Google search pulls up a number of versions sung by a variety of artists, like Carrie Underwood, Andrea Bocelli, Aretha Franklin, and for KING & COUNTRY. 

But, for being such a popular song that’s sung with such frequency around the holidays have you ever paused to consider what “Gloria, in excelsis Deo” actually means? After all…it’s the only non-English phrase in the song, and it’s not something we sing or say frequently outside of the Christmas season.

When WE thought about it…it kind of left us scratching our heads a bit. So we thought we’d do a little digging to find out exactly what “Gloria, in excelsis Deo” means, and why we sing it with such gusto each Christmas season.


Gloria, in excelsis Deo” is a Latin phrase that roughly translates into English as “Glory to God in the Highest. 

A similar phrase is found in the account of the birth of Jesus Christ in Luke 2.

Following the birth of Jesus, an angel of the Lord appeared in the sky above some shepherds who were out in the fields at night, watching over their sheep. The angel was there to announce the news of Jesus’ birth:

I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior - yes, the Messiah, the Lord - has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger."

Suddenly the angel was joined by a huge gathering of angels who were all praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those with whom God is pleased.

Can you imagine this scene?!? The angels were praising God for this incredible, and long-awaited news! The promise of a Savior had been made in Scripture thousands of years before and FINALLY, God’s plan was becoming clear. He would fulfill his promise through his Son, Jesus.


The Jewish people had been waiting for a Messiah – someone who would help save their nation politically and drive the Romans out of their land. But Scripture reveals that God’s plan was to send his Son as a different kind of Messiah for the Jewish people…and as the Savior of the whole world

John 3:16 says, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

God sent Jesus to earth so that through his life, death, and resurrection from the grave He would pay the price for the sin that separated people from God. All people. You and me, included.

So the news that the angel announced to the shepherds that very first Christmas –the good news that will bring great joy to all people– that news is for us, too!!

Looking to begin a relationship with God? Click here to learn more about what that means.

So, the next time you are driving down the road alone in the car and that classic Christmas song comes on the radio…be bold…be confident…and sing out your best Glo-o-o-o-o-ooooo-ria in excelsis Deo!!” Because our Savior has been born!

Finding JOY every day

While your family gets together this season, fill your home with encouragement and joyful messages. Stream JOY FM wherever you go by Clicking here to listen. Or you can easily bring JOY with you by downloading the JOY FM App.

Holidays Got You Stressed? Download the JOY FM App

What can you expect from listening to JOY FM?

You’re going to hear a lot of great music.  Music with meaning…but you’re still going to want to sing along with the songs.  

You’re going to hear on-air personalities that are real people. Laughing. Having fun. And being honest about life. 

And you’re going to notice that JOY FM leaves you feeling a little better about life in general.  A few minutes of listening should leave you feeling uplifted…encouraged…refreshed…ok, we’ll say it…more JOYful!

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