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Music of the Month: The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came

“The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” is a brand-new choral setting composed by the late Philip Gehring (1925–2020). Using the text and tune of Lutheran Service Book 356, this two-part treble choral setting is ideal for church choirs working with limited numbers this Advent and Christmas.

About the Stanzas

The accompaniment may be played either by organ or piano, and a part for flute is included. The first stanza is sung in unison according to the hymn’s melody, while on the second stanza, unison voices sing a countermelody as the flute plays the traditional melody. Stanza three returns to the familiar melody in unison, and stanza four splits into two parts: one singing melody, and another singing a descant.

 

Since most of the singing is done in unison, this setting should be accessible to a wide variety of ensembles. Children’s choirs should be capable of singing either some or all of the stanzas, and SA choral ensembles will find the countermelody on stanza two and the descant on stanza four to be harmonically pleasing and delightful.

One Setting, Multiple Uses

In addition to lending itself to different vocal ensembles, this setting could be used in a variety of ways. A choir could sing the entire hymn as a stand-alone choral piece, or selected stanzas could be extracted to sing in tandem with a congregation as a congregational hymn. The accompaniment provides harmonic variety from the setting found in Lutheran Service Book, so hearing a stanza or two sung in a different way would be rewarding.

Use the Hymn throughout the Church Year

The hymn “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” is fitting for multiple different days this Advent and Christmas season. In the Three-Year Lectionary, the Holy Gospel for the Fourth Sunday in Advent is Luke 1:26–38, which is the account of Gabriel’s announcement to the virgin Mary. The hymn is most fitting for this Reading.

For churches that celebrate Christmas Eve in Lessons-and-Carols style, the angel’s announcement to Mary is a common reading leading up to the account of Christ’s birth in Luke 2. “Thus, The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” is also fitting for Christmas Eve.

The Annunciation of Our Lord is also celebrated on March 25 in the Church Year calendar, exactly nine months before Christmas Day. For congregations that observe the Annunciation of Our Lord on or near that day during the season of Lent, this Advent hymn would be fitting to bring back out.


Learn more about the new setting for “The Angel Gabriel from Heaven Came” and how to incorporate it into your Advent or Christmas worship this year.

 Hear the music 

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Written by

Nathan Grime

Nathan Grime is from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a 2020 graduate of Hillsdale College, where he studied rhetoric, public address, and journalism. Currently, Nathan is the organist and Kantor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Hillsdale, Michigan.

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