Following verse after verse of “Angels We Have Heard On High,” sung by the Sunday-morning congregation at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, sources report that there is yet another verse coming up after this one.
“I was thinking we’d be done for sure after ‘Come to Bethlehem and see,’ seeing as we had already sung ‘Shepherds, why this jubilee,’ as well as the many ‘in excelsis Deo[s]’ before that,” said longtime church-goer Elizabeth Wilson. “But then I glanced down at my hymn book and realized we hadn’t even gotten to the ‘See Him in a manger laid’ part yet, and that’s when I knew we were in it for the long haul.”
Witnesses report that although the hymn is only two pages long, the page count is deceiving in that it corresponds in no perceivable way to the actual duration of the hymn.
“A common misperception is that, when the hymn is only a one or two- pager, it’s going to be a short song,” said Wilson. “But after coming to St. John’s for 30, 40 years, you realize that the three or four page hymns actually have fewer verses and that the organist is going to milk those scant one or two pages for all they’re worth.”
Wilson later added that one can usually tell “how deep into a hymn they are” by the “obscureness of the verse.”
“When you get to that part about ‘Come adore on bended knee,’ or other verses not included in the version sung at Christmastime, you know the organist is getting ready to wrap things up.”
At press time, the organist was heard drawing out the word “glory” to 17 syllables over 30 seconds, and the congregation reported the hymn was “unlikely to be over anytime soon.”