Ideo Gloria

  • Arranged by: Ada Palmer
  • Format: Duet, three voices

Ideo Gloria is a traditional holiday carol, and interesting to arrange because its very medieval melody is quite cold and minor, in contrast with the sweetness of most carols.  This unconventional arrangement exaggerates the unusual melody with a cold, eerie harmony centered on parallel fifths, and adds a new verse to the end.

Composer’s Comment: As a Renaissance historian I constantly read and reread Dante’s Divine Comedy, and other medieval and Renaissance works that discuss the three-part division of the universe into Hell, Earth and Heaven, so after a while I kept being irritated by carols that only treated two of the three.  I set my arrangement with parallel fifths because long strings of parallel fifths are one of the traditional “forbidden” harmonies in Renaissance polyphony, in which they are too clumsy, and restrictive, but common in medieval chant, often sung in parallel fourths, fifths or octaves.  As a result, they sound to modern ears open, cold and uncomfortable, a good match for a song intended to remind the listener of one of the uncomfortable underbellies of the theology.


On this day, Earth shall ring
With a song children sing
Praising God, Christ their king
Gone to Earth to save them
God the Father made them

Ideo, ideo
Ideo gloria, in excelsis Deo

On this day, Heaven rings
With a song angels sing
Praising God, Heaven’s king
Come to Earth to save us
God the Father gave us

Ideo, ideo
Ideo gloria, in excelsis Deo

On this day, Hell shall ring
With a song damned sing
Cursing God, distant king
Who refused to save us
To damnation gave us

Ideo, ideo
Ideo omni semper resistate Deo