Every week in worship we sing the “Gloria”. As the familiar intro is played, I anticipate the opening line, “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth.” These ancient words are commonly attributed to Hillary of Poitiers of the 4th Century. Sometimes I reflect on the fact that that I’ve been singing this very ancient hymn most all my life. Not only that, I realize that for close to 2 millennia this hymn, in various forms and languages, has been sung in churches around the world. It is easy, as we make our way through the hymn, to be caught up in the sense of both history and home. The hymn is the church’s to be sure, but it is also yours and mine as we sing and pray it together.
There is power in the realization that you and I stand on the shoulders of 500 years of Anglicanism and another 1000 years of the Church prior to that. Faith is always inherited, and with that inheritance comes a tradition alongside it. The power of sacred tradition is that it not only removes us from the center of the cosmos, but it also draws us into a deeper reality by connecting us to generations of Christians who have come before- the great cloud of witnesses referred to in Hebrews 12.
Good, solid Biblical tradition, such as singing the “Gloria”, making the sign of the cross, kneeling, or reverencing the cross in procession serve to pull us deeper into worship. They involve our souls, minds and bodies. I invite you to listen, really listen, to the ancient words we sing and pray today as you join your voices with the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven!