Mid Week Reflection – The Fourth Week of Advent 2021

“Gloria in excelsis Deo” (Latin), “Glory to God in the highest” (English), the Angelic Hymn or simply the Gloria, different names but the same song. The Gloria is the third of the songs from the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel, although I have placed the Gloria at the end of our Advent reflections, as close to Christmas as possible. I know for the many the Gloria is not said or sung during Advent (or Lent). Advent is a penitentiary season and one of preparation for Christmas and the gift of Jesus. So here we are in Advent and I’m focusing on these words from Luke:

At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
Glory to God in the heavenly heights,
Peace to all men and women on earth who please him. (Luke 2:13-14, The Message)

I do so as a final preparation and in anticipation of our Christmas celebrations.

This song from Luke’s Gospel is different for other songs, it is sung by angels not humans. Mary sings the first; Zechariah the second; and finally Simeon sings the final song. Also the Gloria is sung to a group of shepherds in the fields outside of Bethlehem – shepherds were not seen as the most respectable of people. We recall, that Mary sings her song to Elizabeth; Zechariah sings his to Elizabeth and the crowd gathered for John’s naming; and Simeon sings when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple.

The Gloria has been sung to many settings from Vivaldi, Handle and Saint-Saens through to the British composers William Walton, John Rutter and Karl Jenkins. There are literally hundreds of setting to the Gloria.

Below are the opening words of a French Carol, the composer unknown translated from French to English is by Bishop James Chadwick (1813-1882)

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains. Refrain

Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

This is a great song of celebration, Gloria, in excelsis Deo! A worthy end to this period of Advent preparation. It is surely a song of joy, of peace that is worthy to be shared so that many may join in the unending hymn, “Glory to God in the highest!” Amen, Amen.

The Fourth Week of Advent 2021

Collects for the fourth week of Advent
Eternal God, as Mary waited for the birth of your Son,
so we wait for his coming in glory; bring us through the birth pangs of this present age
to see, with her, our great salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord.

God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Words from the Psalms

Psalm 123 (1)
To you I lift up my eyes, • to you that are enthroned in the heavens.

Psalm 131 (1-3)
O Lord, my heart is not proud; • my eyes are not raised in haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters, • with things that are too high for me.
But I have quieted and stilled my soul, like a weaned child on its mother’s breast; •
so my soul is quieted within me.


Words from the prophet Isaiah Chapter 32

See, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice.
Each will be like a hiding-place from the wind, a covert from the tempest,
like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.
Then the eyes of those who have sight will not be closed, and the ears of those who have hearing will listen.
The minds of the rash will have good judgement, and the tongues of stammerers will speak readily and distinctly.
A fool will no longer be called noble, nor a villain be said to be honourable. (32.1-5)


As the season of Advent comes to an end, the season where we have lifted up our hearts in praise and anticipation. Let us pause before our prayers of intercessions and hold the words of our readings, perhaps slowly reading them again.

We pray firstly for those closest to us, our immediate family and closest friends – for their health, needs, joys and fears.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for our extended family and friends who we might not see each week –
for their love and concern, for their wellbeing.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for those who we only have contact with infrequently –
for a blessing this Advent-time

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation Hear the prayers of our hearts

We pray for this world and its people – for the needs of this week and the future.

(Silent prayer)

God of creation, God of Salvation
Who speaks to us through thunder and whisper, who loves us as if there were but one of us to love Hear the prayers of our hearts
(Adapted from Prayers for Advent 1 John Birch)

Lord, as Christmas draws ever closer free us from being self-absorbed and self-centred. Instead fill us with eagerness and generosity of heart. Like Mary, may we too go out in loving service of others and with the angels have our hearts filled with joy as we go out into the world.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our thanks to Barry and Ann Sugden for the musical accompaniment. Many of use will remember with gratitude their musical input to our weekly worship during the Lockdowns and beyond. Thank you for your contribution to this time of reflection.

Gloria sung to Cwm Rhondda
Please follow the link below for the music


Glory be to God in heaven
songs of joy and peace we bring.
Thankful hearts and voices raising,
to creations Lord we sing.
Lord we thank you, Lord we bless you.
Glory be to God our King!
Glory be to Christ our King!

Lamb of God, who on your shoulders
Bore the load of this worlds sin.
Only Son of God the Father,
You have brought us peace within.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Now your glorious reign begins,
Now your glorious reign begins!

You, O Son of God, are holy,
You we praise with one accord,
none in heaven or earth is like you,
only you are Christ the Lord,
With the Father and the Spirit,
ever worshipped and adored,
ever worshipped and adored.

A Loving Benediction
Be people of love.
Let love live in your heart and share the love of Christ with all you meet.
Share love by loving those you see regularly. Start by loving your community.
Share love by loving those you do not know. How do your actions affect the rest of God’s creation?
Share love by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share love.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share love, joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen. (Liturgylink.net)

You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!

Derek Akker
(Derek is a retired Anglican Parish Priest and a member of the congregations of All Saints & St James)

Collects – © Common Worship, The Archbishops Council, 2000

Parish of Kirklees Valley, Bury, (All Saints, Elton & St James, Woolfold)
In the Diocese of Manchester
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Image: Advent wreaths in Austria-
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 – Wkimedia Commons