“Angels We Have Heard On High”

21 Dec

“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 heav’nly song?
Gloria In Excelsis Deo!
Gloria In Excelsis Deo!

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him 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 within 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!

Dear God, I know I just said this in another prayer, but it is fascinating that it is the shepherds that got the angel visit. The angel visited Zechariah, Mary, Joseph (multiple times), and the shepherds. I think that’s it. The shepherds. One angel shows up while the shepherds are “keeping watch over their flocks at night” (Luke 2:8b). Your glory reflected off of the angel and it scared them.

But what if the angel had gone somewhere else? What if he had shown up at the high priest’s home? The governor? The innkeeper for crying out loud? All of these people would probably have messed up the plan. The priest wouldn’t have trusted Mary and Joseph to raise the child. The governor probably would have killed him. And the innkeeper…well, I’m sure he would have messed things up too.

And then when the angel is done with his message, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,” in their best Latin, “Gloria, In Excelsis Deo!” We see movies that depict Santa and the elves every Christmas Eve getting ready for Christmas. The excitement and joy they are about to unleash on the world is palpable. It’s hard for me to imagine the reality of how the angels felt to watch Jesus come down and enter time and space as a human. He would live a simple life with a tragic and then glorious end, but, in the meantime, the world needed confirmation beyond just what Mary and Joseph knew. We needed to know that someone else had an angel visit. Someone with no skin in the game. The shepherds from that night, while their names are lost to history, are still a huge part of our story (and every church Christmas pageant) today.

Father, I am sure I will hear this song at a Christmas Eve service on Tuesday. It’s a staple. Frankly, it’s never been a favorite of mine, but it is a good reminder that these shepherds and this incident are a critical and strategic part of the plan. Thank you for thinking of everything.

In Jesus’s name I pray,


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Posted by on December 21, 2019 in Christmas Hymns, Hymns and Songs



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