Hymn of the week: Glory to God (‘Peruvian Gloria’)

Celtic knotThere are some beautifully poetic hymns written on the theme of the Holy Trinity, but sometimes something a little simpler is needed – cue the ‘Peruvian Gloria’.

I am not able to find any information about the origin of this hymn. The oldest book I have with it in is Folk Hymnal Volume 2 (1975) which identifies it as Peruvian. I have read claims that it is actually North American in origin, but have not seen the evidence for this.

There are a number of variations in the words: the Iona Community popularised the version with the single verse ‘Glory to God, glory to God, glory in the highest’ which is how it appears in the Second Communion Order in the Methodist Worship Book (1999). The number of “alleluia, amen”s varies and the language of some versions is more inclusive than others. (Older versions had ‘to him be glory for ever’; this is usually amended to ‘to God be glory for ever’.)

Googling ‘Peruvian Gloria’ suggests that this hymn has its fans and critics. It is very easy to sing – all it needs is a confident cantor. One reasonable objection is that it is not really a Gloria – it is too brief to be considered a paraphrase of the Gloria. This is probably more a matter of concern for purists who object to deviations from the authorized liturgical texts – not so much a problem for Methodists, who routinely substitute hymns for liturgical texts such as the Gloria and Alleluia. I can imagine that if I sang it week in and week I would be fed up with it too; but we sing it infrequently enough to keep it fresh.

This is the version we sang at Archway this morning (congregation singing the lines in italics):

Glory to God, glory to God,
glory to the Father!
Glory to God, glory to God,
glory to the Father!
To God be glory forever!
To God be glory forever!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia, Amen!
Alleluia, Amen!

Glory to God, glory to God,
glory to Christ Jesus…

Glory to God, glory to God,
glory to the Spirit…

Anonymous. Peruvian?

Illustration: Celtic ‘Trinity knot’ inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels. Source Wikipedia.

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About Holloway Rev

Paul Weary is a Methodist minister living and working in Holloway, North London.
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