Tag Archives: Heavenly host

Angels We Have Heard On High

Angels 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.”

Doxology

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Words by Thomas Ken, 1674
Music by Louis Bourgeois, 1551

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150:6

My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:21

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
Psalm 148:2

At the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:10 – 11

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
2 Corinthians 1:3

we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
Philippians 3:3


 

One of the biggest challenges that I find in writing or speaking is getting started. How do you grab peoples attention? How do you lead into what you want to talk about? Ultimately the question is “How do I begin?”

So it can be when we sing praises to God. Where do we begin? Almighty! Victorious! Worthy! Savior! I can go on and on, for there is so much that can be said. This passion and truth is presented to us in a simple four line stanza, that may be the most commonly used hymn throughout Christendom, “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow” more commonly known as the “Doxology.”

Now the first thing to understand is that these words that have become so familiar with the church today make up the final stanza of a much longer hymn known as “Awake, My Soul, And With The Sun.”

But as we look at these words that have stood the test of time, we are drawn in to worship God in all His glory. The first line reads, ” Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.” Thomas Ken begins by answering a question that we here so often, a question that we may sometimes find ourselves asking. “Why should I worship God?” Both those who feel they have nothing and those who feel they have earned all they have will ask, “What has He done for me?”

But the Bible has answered this question. James writes in chapter 1 verse 7, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father. . .” So Ken writes in response to the worlds question, “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow.”

Simply put, God is worthy to be praised. But we are not alone in declaring His praises. It is so easy for us to center our focus on ourselves, and amazingly when it comes to praising God we are no different. Each of us may begin to see that it is “our” job to worship God. And while this is true, it is not us alone. Not only is the call upon all the people in the world to declare His praise but it is the purpose of all creation.

Ken writes, ” Praise Him, all creatures here below.” Yes everything on the earth is called to praise Him. This theme occurs again and again through the Psalms. In Psalm 150 verse 6 we read, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” And again in Psalm 145:21 we read, “. . . Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.”

And still beyond this world the praises ring. Ken now writes, “Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.” Yes, it is all of creation that praises Him, Not only those in the world, but also those who sit in the heavenly realms. Psalm 148:2 tells this when we read, “Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts.”

And finally, this universal praise of God is shown to us in its ultimate culmination when we read in Philippians 2:10 – 11 that “At the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Yes, we have been called to praise God. We need not worry about how we begin, simply that we do. When understand our call to sing His praises, then we truly will be able to ” Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

 

 

Read more about the “Doxology.”