Gloria laus et honor
Glory, and laud, and honour
All glory, laud, and honour
GLORIA LAUS ET HONOR
VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN
Latin Text: Historical Context. Theodulf was born ca. 760 in northern Spain, probably in or near Zaragoza, trained in literature, theology, and liturgy. He was probably among the many Spanish Christians who fled Muslim unrest ca. 778-782 and settled in Narbonne. At an unknown time in the 780s, Theodulf was engaged by Charlemagne (742–814), King of the Franks, to be an advisor, especially in the area of theology. In 798, Theodulf was appointed bishop of Orléans. As bishop, he promoted education, penned works on baptism and the Holy Spirit, commissioned a famous mosaic for his villa at Germigny-des-Prés, and produced the most scholarly edition of the Vulgate Bible available at the time. Charlemagne died in 814 and was succeeded by his son, Louis the Pious (778–840). In or around 817, Bernard, king of Italy and nephew of Louis, attempted an uprising against Louis but failed. Theodulf was among the bishops and nobles who were implicated as supporters or conspirators of Bernard, and he was banished to a life of monasticism in Angers.
Although Theodulf defended his innocence in letters he wrote to fellow bishops, he did write a flattering poem upon the presence of Louis in Angers in 818, probably an attempt at appeasement. While in Angers, Theodulf also wrote his famed Palm Sunday hymn, “Gloria laus et honor.” This is also frequently seen as an attempt to court the favor of Louis.
A popular story of the conception of the hymn dates to the early 12th century, in Hugo of Fleury’s Historia Ecclesiastica (1110 A.D.), book 6:
Floruit etiam his temporibus Theodulphus Floriacensium abbas et Aurelianensium episcopus. Qui cum insimulatus multis criminibus apud imperatorem Ludovicum fuisset, Andegavis est exilio relegatus. Qui dum in custodia teneretur, contigit ut ibidem die palmarum veniret iam dictus piissimus imperator, et dum secus domum qua custodiebatur idem Theodulphus episcopus processio pertransiret, facto silentio presente imperatore, illos pulcherrimos versus, qui nunc usque per Galliam in eadem sollempnitate psalluntur, a se editos, per fenestram decantavit, quorum hec est exordium: Gloria, laus, et honor tibi sit … Quibus imperator emollitus, mox eum a vinculis absolvi precepit et priori gratia redonavit.
[Theodulf, abbot of Fleury and bishop of Orléans, also flourished in these times. At the occasion of being accused of many crimes by the emperor Louis, he was banished in exile to Angers. While kept in custody, it so happened that at the time of the day of palms, the most holy emperor might come now as appointed, and while near the same building where bishop Theodulf was being kept, he might march right by; while silence was created by the presence of the emperor, those most beautiful verses, the same which now are always sung solemnly throughout Gaul (France), elevated by himself, he sang through the window, of which this is the beginning: “Glory, laud, and honor belong to you…” At this the emperor was softened, and he was soon released from his imprisonment as ordered, and in gratitude he forgave the previous things.]
This story seems to be the basis of the one given by James Mearns in A Dictionary of Hymnology (1892), p. 426, citing Clichtoveus’ Elucidatorium (1516), and repeated in other sources. And yet this account—compelling by its association with Fleury, where Theodulf was abbot—is probably not true, as Louis is not known to have returned to Angers after 818. Another spurious story in circulation involves seven boys singing “Gloria laus et honor” in front of King Louis, resulting in Theodulf’s release. In reality, scholars believe Theodulf either died in Angers, or if he was released in a series of pardons in 821, he died shortly thereafter.
Latin Manuscripts: Text. The full version of the hymn spans 78 lines of elegaic couplets, as preserved by Jacques Sirmond [Jacobi Sirmondi] in Theodvlfi Aurelianensis Episcopi Opera (Paris: Sebastianum Cramoisy, 1646), pp. 170-172 (Fig. 1). Unfortunately, Sirmond’s source for this full version is unknown, as no 78-line manuscripts are known to survive. Surviving manuscripts generally range from 12 to 36 lines. The brevity of these manuscripts is probably due to the nature of the last half of the text, which is a detailed account of the Palm Sunday traditions at Angers, including a list of holy sites in the area. This part of the hymn would not be applicable or useful outside of Angers, and as the traditions at Angers changed, this part of the text probably lost its relevance there also.
For a full word-for-word English translation by Chris Fenner, in parallel with the Latin, see this PDF.
Fig. 1. Jacobi Sirmondi, Theodvlfi Avrelianensis Episcopi Opera (Paris: Sebastianum Cramoisy, 1646), pp. 170-172.
The oldest surviving manuscript of the hymn is contained in a codex, 9th century (ca. 870-880), held at Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS-227 (“Pontifical de Poitiers”), fols. 73r.-74r, featuring the first 36 lines of the poem (Fig. 2). This copy does not have a melody.
Fig. 2. BNF Paris, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, MS-227 (“Pontifical de Poitiers”), fols. 73r.-74r, 9th century (ca. 870-880).
One other 9th century manuscript survives at St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 899, p. 120, also without music (website | Fig. 3). This manuscript only uses the first twelve lines of the hymn and indicates how the first two lines are to be repeated after every couplet, like a refrain.
Fig. 3. St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 899, p. 120 (9th century).
Latin Manuscripts: Chant Tunes. In a study of melodic manuscripts for the Hymnal 1982 Companion (vol. 3A, no. 155; 1994), Raymond Glover and R. John Blackley identified four notable exemplars, the earliest being 10th century manuscripts at St. Gallen (Cod. Sang. 339, pp. 95-96, ca. 980-1000 | Fig. 4), and Einsiedeln (Stiftsbibliothek, Codex 121, ca. 960-970 | website). These manuscripts predate lined notation (they are non-diastematic). The symbols were intended to indicate shape without expressing exact pitches. The actual shape of the melody would have been learned and memorized. The St. Gallen manuscript only uses the first twelve lines of the hymn.
Fig. 4. St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, Cod. Sang. 339, pp. 95-96 (ca. 980-1000).
Glover and Blackley name their earliest source for a notated melody as the 12th century codex at Graz (Universitätsbibliothek, MS 807, fols. 84r-84v | website | Fig. 5). This manuscript uses a hybrid system of notation, showing the general shape of the melody, yet also showing pitch levels and a baseline. Like the manuscripts at St. Gallen, this one uses only the first twelve lines of the hymn.
Fig. 5. Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, MS 807, fols. 84r-84v, 12th century.
Craig Wright, in his article “The Palm Sunday procession in medieval Chartres” (2000) offered a comparison of five chant tunes for “Gloria laus et honor,” taken from Chartres, Paris, Soissons, Clermont, and Sarum, showing how all five tunes share a common fundamental origin with regional variations. The tunes listed by Wright date as early as the 13th century. The tune from Paris (preserved in the Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique, MS 4334, fol. 29, 13th century)—distinctive because of its more florid opening phrase—was the one to make its way to the Sarum cathedral in England (Fig. 6). One of Wright’s exemplars, from the Graduale Sarisburiense (as edited by W.H. Frere, 1894 | HathiTrust), a 13th century codex, was used as the basis of the chant tune used in the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 (GLORIA LAUS ET HONOR).
Fig. 6. Processionale ad vsum matris ecclesie Sarum (Martinum Morin, 1517), fols. 45v-46r, Queen’s College Library, London.
The Sarum Processionale shown above, and others like it, fell out of use after the development of the Book of Common Prayer in 1549 and the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558. One prominent BCP scholar, Marion Hatchett, described the elimination of the Palm Sunday processional in the Church of England, and by extension, the performance of Theodulf’s hymn:
Because of the reformers’ aversion to the blessing of material things, the blessing of branches and the procession were eliminated, leaving the rite with no commemoration of the triumphal entry. In some later revisions, the account of the entry, or the prophecy from Zechariah 9:9ff, was appointed to be read at the daily office. Few people, over the past several decades, have attended both Morning Prayer and Eucharist, in actual practice, with the result that the contrast between the king joyously greeted by the crowd and the king reigning from a tree, condemned to death by the crowd, and the contrast between the shouts of “Hosanna” which greeted our Lord at his entry into Jerusalem and the cries of “crucify” later in the week—the particular contrasts which give the day its pathos and power—were lost to the worshiper.
The Palm Sunday procession was not officially restored in the Episcopal church until the 1960 Book of Offices.
For a detailed list of additional Latin manuscripts, see especially Guido Maria Dreves, Analecta Hymnica, vol. 50 (Leipzig: O.R. Reisland, 1907), p. 162 (HathiTrust).
Latin Text: Analysis. As a Palm Sunday hymn, the text is rooted in the story of the triumphal entry, found in all four gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, John 12), and its precedents in Psalm 24:7-10, Psalm 118:19-29, and Zechariah 9:9. In the first half of the hymn, Theodulf crafted a poetic series of comparisons between Jesus’ triumphal entry and its annual celebration by Christians of later times. In one such comparison, Theodulf wrote, “The glory of their deeply rooted blood made them Hebrews; behold, his holy death makes us Hebrews,” describing how Gentiles are grafted into the vine (Romans 11). One of his less successful comparisons is in line 21: “You are the holy rider, and let us be your donkey.”
The second half of the hymn, not typically sung or printed anymore in Palm Sunday liturgies, is a glorious depiction of worshipers marching through Angers from all directions, with branches in their hands and praises on their lips, ultimately gathering together at the Cathedral of St. Maurice—which still stands—“where the voice of both praise and prayer may resound.” In spite of its limited usefulness when read strictly as a description of one set of Christians worshiping in one time, in one place, this latter part of the hymn deserves to be better known, because it paints a glorious picture of Palm Sunday worshipers marching through a city toward a common location, in one united expression of praise. This part of the hymn also serves an important historical function in the way it names religious sites in and around Angers, many of which either still exist or have identifiable ruins, including Saint-Aubin Abbey (line 49), Church of St. Martin of Tours (53), Church of St. Pierre (57), Abbey of St. Serge (59), Church of St. Aignan (63), and a possible precursor to the 11th century Abbey of Notre-Dame du Ronceray (65). “The people also come here from seat of blessed Germanus” (line 67), possibly refers to either Germanus of Paris (ca. 496–576) or Germanus of Auxerre (ca. 378–ca. 448).
English Translation. This hymn is known to English worshipers primarily through the translation by John Mason Neale (1818–1866). His first attempt was given in Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (London: Joseph Masters, 1851 | Fig. 7), in an unrhymed prose translation, including the opening couplet, regarded as a chorus, then the first six and the tenth “stanzas” (couplets). In the original Latin, this would represent lines 1-14 and 27-28. In Neale’s mind, the “original composition” only contained 22 lines.
Fig. 7. Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (London: Joseph Masters, 1851).
Neale prepared a rhymed, metrical version for Part II of The Hymnal Noted, “Glory, and laud, and honour.” A words-only edition appeared in 1855 (Fig. 8) with copious scripture references, followed by a music edition in 1856 (Fig. 9). The text of 1855/1856, much like the prose version of 1851, followed lines 1-14 and 27-28 of the Latin. The music edition was edited by Thomas Helmore, who had supplied a melody from the processionals of York and Salisbury [Sarum] (see Fig. 6 above). See also the Accompanying Harmonies to the Hymnal Noted (London: Novello, 1858).
Fig. 8. The Words of the Hymnal Noted Complete (London: Novello, 1855).
Fig. 9. Hymnal Noted, Parts I & II (London: Novello, 1856).
Neale’s hymn was then adopted into Hymns Ancient & Modern, starting with the Trial Ed. of 1859, words only, then the first complete edition with music in 1861 (Fig. 10). The editors tweaked the opening line to read “All glory, laud, and honour,” which is a better syllabic emphasis. The only other changes occurred in the fifth stanza, which resulted in a much smoother rendering. The editors omitted Neale’s seventh stanza.
Fig. 10. Hymns Ancient & Modern (London: Novello, 1861).
John Mason Neale, in the second edition of his Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences (1863), added a note mentioning his metrical translation in the Hymnal Noted and its altered form in Hymns Ancient & Modern, which he called “an improvement” (p. 26 | HathiTrust).
German Tune. In Hymns Ancient & Modern, the editors used a German tune by Melchior Teschner (1584–1635), originally intended for the hymn “Valet will ich der Geben” by Valerius Herberger. Herberger’s text was written in 1613 in response to a plague that had devastated his hometown of Fraustadt. Teschner wrote two five-part musical settings for this text, the second of which (“Posterior Compositio”) is now associated with Theodulf and Neale. In Teschner’s arrangement, first published in Ein Andächtiges Gebet (1614; 1619 ed shown at Fig. 11), the melody was given in the discantus part. Hymns Ancient & Modern called it ST. THEODULPH, but some hymnals use the German name VALET WILL ICH DIR GEBEN.
The original harmonization prepared for Hymns Ancient & Modern by William Monk (1823–1889) used an altered form of the fifth phrase (see Fig. 10), a decision regretted by the editors of the 1904 edition, calling this “artistically inferior.” “By this means [of restoration] the dullness of having no closes but tonic and dominant is avoided, and the composer’s wise intentions are not ignored any longer.” This restoration was reversed back to Monk’s arrangement in the 1906 edition (a reclamation of the old 1889 edition), which persisted until the publication of Common Praise (2000), which used the setting by J.S. Bach; this setting was repeated in Ancient & Modern (2013).
Fig. 11. Ein Andächtiges Gebet, damit die Evangelische Bürgerschafft zur Frawenstadt Anno 1613 (Leipzig, 1619).
Teschner’s tune was arranged by J.S. Bach (1685–1750) for his St. John Passion (1724), mvt. 26 (“In meines Herzens Grunde”); this harmonization is sometimes used by hymnal compilers. In keeping with the Latin tradition of using the first two lines as a refrain, some hymnals use the first two lines of Teschner’s tune as a refrain, thus putting the conclusion of the song in the middle of the tune. Erik Routley called this “historically outrageous.” Paul Westermeyer also noted the oddity of this practice:
It has been deformed by being forced to accommodate a refrain. The original and natural shape of the tune … does not use the first phrase group as a refrain. The reason the tune as we have it feels out of kilter for congregations is not because of the tune itself, but because our deformation has made the middle into an end … resulting in a muddle.
Not all church musicians see this as a deficiency. Methodist scholar Kenneth Trickett ventured, “some would assert that the conclusion on the higher octave is more effective than that on the low [tonic].”
This tune is sometimes compared to Sellinger’s Round by William Byrd (1540–1623), which dates as early as 1591 in My Ladye Nevells Booke, and which in turn is possibly a tune of Irish origin, found in England as early as 1543. The connection between Byrd and Teschner is curious but highly speculative. For more on the origins of the Byrd tune, see Musica Britannica, vol. 28 (1971), pp. 135-140, and especially the editorial notes at p. 199.
Legacy. Given the early distribution and abundance of Latin manuscripts, the hymn seems to have spread quickly, and it has held its place as a regular feature of Palm Sunday worship in the Catholic tradition ever since. Latin scholar F.J.E. Raby once wrote, “These remarkable verses are the crown of Theodulf’s poetry.” In English churches, the hymn owes a debt of gratitude for the revival brought about by J.M. Neale’s translation and its adoption into Hymns Ancient & Modern; since that time, it has become nearly indispensable in English hymnals.
by CHRIS FENNER
for Hymnology Archive
12 March 2019
Stephen A. Hurlbut, Hortus Conclusus, Part V (Washington, DC: St. Albans Press, 1931), p. 13; this is also given in J.P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina, vol. 163 (Paris: Garnier Fratres, 1893), pp. 853-854 (HathiTrust).
William T. Brooke, “Children’s hymns,” A Dictionary of Hymnology, ed. John Julian (London, 1892), p. 219.
Marion Hatchett, Commentary on the American Prayer Book (NY: Seabury Press, 1980), p. 225.
Hymns Ancient & Modern, Historical Edition (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1909), p. 159.
Erik Routley, “All glory, laud, and honour,” Companion to Congregational Praise (London: Independent Press, 1953), p. 74.
Paul Westermeyer, “All glory, laud, and honor,” Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010), p. 145.
Kenneth Trickett, “ST. THEODUPLH,” Companion to Hymns and Psalms (Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 1988), p. 122.
F.J.E. Raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953), p. 175.
Scholarly Editions of “Gloria laus et honor” (Latin):
Jacobi Sirmondi, Theodvlfi Avrelianensis Episcopi Opera (Paris: Sebastianum Cramoisy, 1646), pp. 170-172: HathiTrust
J.P. Migne, Theodulfi Aurelianensis Episcopi, Patrologiae Cursus Completus, Series Latina (PL), vol. 105 (Paris, 1864), pp. 308-309: Archive.org
Ernst Dümmler, Poetae Latini Aevi Carolini, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), vol. 1 (Berlin: Weidmann, 1881), pp. 558-559: Archive.org
Guido Maria Dreves, Analecta Hymnica, vol. 50 (Leipzig: O.R. Reisland, 1907), pp. 160-162: HathiTrust
Nikolai A. Alexandrenko, The Poetry of Theodulf of Orléans: A Translation and Critical Study, dissertation (Tulane University, 1970), pp. 256-260.
Louis Coutier Biggs, Hymns Ancient & Modern … with Annotations (London: Novello, 1867), pp. 105-106: Archive.org
Johannes Zahn, Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder, vol. 3 (1890), no. 5404a, p. 407.
James Mearns & John Julian, “Gloria laus et honor,” A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1892), p. 426: Google Books
“All glory, laud, and honour,” Hymns Ancient & Modern, Historical Edition (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1909), pp. 157-159.
Stephen A. Hurlbut, Hortus Conclusus: A Series of Mediaeval Latin Hymns with Selected English Renderings, Part V (Washington, DC: St. Albans Press, 1931), pp. 10-13.
K.L. Parry & Erik Routley, “All glory, laud, and honour,” Companion to Congregational Praise (London: Independent Press, 1953), pp. 73-74.
“All glory, laud, and honor,” The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd ed. (NY: Church Pension Fund, 1956), pp. 46-48.
C.E. Pocknee, “Three Latin hymns,” HSGBI Bulletin (April 1966), pp. 61-65.
J.R. Watson & Kenneth Trickett, “All glory, laud, and honour,” Companion to Hymns and Psalms (Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 1988), pp. 121-122.
Raymond Glover & R. John Blackley, “All glory, laud, and honor,” The Hymnal 1982 Companion, vol. 3A (NY: Church Hymnal Corp., 1994), nos. 74, 154-155.
Bert Polman, “All glory, laud, and honor,” Psalter Hymnal Handbook (Grand Rapids: CRC, 1998), pp. 531-532.
Craig Wright, “The Palm Sunday procession in medieval Chartres,” The Divine Office in the Latin Middle Ages (Oxford, 2000), pp. 344-371.
J.R. Watson, “All glory, laud, and honour,” An Annotated Anthology of Hymns (Oxford: University Press, 2002), pp. 36-37.
Paul Westermeyer, “All glory, laud, and honor,” Hymnal Companion to Evangelical Lutheran Worship (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2010), pp. 144-146.
Chris Fenner, “Theodulf: Theologian Charlemagne’s Court, Poet, and Bishop of Orleáns,” The Hymn, vol. 63, no. 1 (Winter 2012), pp. 13-20: HathiTrust
J.R. Watson & Emma Hornby, “All glory, laud, and honour,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
David Wulstan, “Gloria laus et honor,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:
“All glory, laud, and honor,” Hymnary.org: