By the way, you'd better not whisper to PF what I've just explained, or he may "correct the translation" (to employ the silly terms he used in altering the Our Father) of the Gloria in excelsis to cut it down to what he can himself understand, and to prevent it from 'offending' people. Not least because our Moslem friends are, in their Christology, Unitarian rather than Trinitarian. I have, incidentally, wondered whether the irritation felt in Trendiland by the translation, in the Creed, of homoousios as consubstantial may arise from a crypto-Arian mindset. Similarly, the replacement of the 'Nicene' Creed by the 'Apostles' Creed'. (I don't know what ultra-orthodox and very witty Anglican liturgist had the idea of allowing the 'Athanasian Creed' to be used at Mass in the C of E!! That really would be a step in the right direction!)
But, however the baddies may tamper with the text or use of the Creed, I find it reassuring that the Gloria still preserves the Church's orthodox Christology. And expresses it with very great beauty.
How should we date the Gloria? It had certainly got itself, in a variety of versions, all over the Christian World by the middle of the fourth century. It can hardly be later than the third century. Dix suggests an origin "even, perhaps in the second century".
That would not be surprising. Batiffol and Jungmann see it as a surviving example of the psalmi idiotici ... psalms wriiten by private individuals rather than being found, like the Psalms of David, in the Scriptures. Gloria in excelsis attracts our attention first as part of the psalmody of the morning Office; by the second half of the fourth century Catholic worship tended to banish them (that is when the Council of Laodicea simultaneously banned psalmi idiotici and the reading of 'uncanonical Scriptures'). Dix points out that it is only with Tertullian at the turn of the century that we begin to find Scripture employed as normative and as constitutive of sound doctrine. "Unless we recognise the important change produced in Christian theological method by the definite canonisation of the NT Scriptures, which only begins to have its full effect after c. A.D. 180, we shall not understand the second-century Church".
Yet this Song does start off with a 'motto' (to use the terminology of commentators on the Classics) drawn from NT Scripture: the Song of the Angels recorded by S Luke in his infancy narrative. This is surely some indication of the growing liturgical influence of the Scriptures. Perhaps Gloria in excelsis should be dated to the end of the second century, although one must remember how fluid its text for some time remained.
To be continued.