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The Gloria (Gloria in excelsis deo), a hymn of praise, is the second item of the Latin Mass (after the Kyrie), sung on festal occasions. The text, which begins with Luke ii. 14., is considered one of the great pieces of Christian prose. In a Frankish version sourced from the 9th century it is the basis of some of the most important medieval chant melodies. It found its way into polyphonic settings, before being divided into various movements in settings by baroque composers.
Stand-alone major settings of the Gloria, that are now frequently heard outside its original liturgical setting and enjoyed in a secular context, have been written by Antonio Vivaldi and Francis Poulenc. A “new” Gloria, written by G. F. Handel, has only come to light from the vaults of the British Royal Academy of Music in the last few years and was recently recorded.