Angels We Have Heard On High

shepherds-and-angelsAngels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Words and Music are a traditional French Carol translated by James Chadwick, 1862

 


Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.
Psalm 103:20 – 22

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Psalm 148:1 – 2

Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy. Before the LORD, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.
Psalm 98:8 – 9

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Luke 2:8 – 20


 

What is the best news you have ever received?  It may have been when you received an acceptance letter to that one college you wanted to attend more than any other.  Maybe it was news that a loved one was coming home from being away for a long time.  For some it may have been news that your medical test had come back clear.  For others it might have been the birth of a first child or grandchild. Whatever the situation, the joy of receiving good news seems unparalleled. This is why the proverb found in Proverbs 25:25 says, “Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land.”

Now while each person will have a different answers of what that good news they received was, the joy and excitement of receiving the news is very similar. Yet they pale in comparison to the joy of the greatest news ever received.  This is the theme found in the Christmas carol, “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

In this carol we find presented the events surrounding the presentation of the Good News (or Gospel) of Christ birth given by the angels to the shepherds.  It begins with the line, “Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing or the plains.” The very name “angel” means messenger, and so the angel brought the message. The message referred to is found in Luke 2:10 – 12 were we read, “the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'”

This was a source of unmatched joy. Now ask yourself, what has been your response to the good news you have received?  You may have shouted with joy, had tears of happiness or been silent, unable to utter a sound.  The Heavenly host are no different, as Luke 2:13 – 14 tells us, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'” In response to the great news that Jesus had been born, the angels in heaven could not restrain their joy and declared, “Gloria, in excelsis Deo!” That is “Glory to God in the highest!”

Now it was the shepherds turn to respond to the good news shared by the angel. Luke 2:15 – 20 tells us that ” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’ So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” They were so filled with joy from the news that they could not contain it. These simple shepherds now proclaimed the gospel to others. This leads to the carol’s reflection on what the others must have thought of the shepherds. “Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heavenly song?”

So we ask ourselves, what is our response to the birth of the Savior? Do we respond with the uncontainable joy of the angels and shepherds? Or do we respond with a sense of bewilderment as the carol suggest the towns people may have? In either case let us seek to find the Savior who was born, and experience the joy that comes from this revelation,  that we might join with the Heavenly Host, raising our hearts in love declaring “Gloria, in excelsis Deo!”

 

 

Read more about “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s