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“Angels We Have Heard On High”

“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!

https://youtu.be/WHWqj6gKS9g

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,

Amen

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

 

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“Angles We Have Heard on High”

“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 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!

https://youtu.be/WHWqj6gKS9g

Dear God, this has probably become the most ubiquitous Christmas hymn of our generation. If I were to survey all of the Christmas Eve services in our town, I would bet that over 90% of them would use this song. It is as much of a standard as “Silent Night” (which I’m saving for Christmas Eve).

So let’s see what we have here. First, I’ll just say that I love the idea of spending some time with the shepherds. In this song, the angels show up in the first verse and I presume we are singing from the shepherds’ perspective because they are the ones who heard the angels singing o’er the plains.

Next, a part of the story that is often overlooked is how the shepherds went throughout Bethlehem telling people what they had seen the night before. Did they start singing too? The writer of this hymn seems to think they did.

The third verse is apparently the shepherds inviting people to come to Bethlehem to see what they just heard the angels singing about. And they recognize the baby is to be worshipped because they call him Christ and of the bended-knee part. And I just made sure that in Luke 2:11 the angel does, indeed refer you Jesus as the Messiah.

As far as verse four goes, I’ve always liked the idea that the shepherds’ arrival and story would be a great affirmation to Mary and Joseph, who had to be scared and insecure about how this night had turned out. Personally, I can think of several times that you have given me an affirmation that I’ve needed

Father, as I close, I have an old friend from my Waco days who is in the hospital for intestinal blockage. Please be with him. Be with the doctors. Heal him. Clear the blockage and make him as comfortable as possible. Strengthen his wife and his children. Give them encouragement and affirmation in the midst of this trial. Help them to tangibly feel your presence.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2019 in Christmas Hymns, Hymns and Songs

 

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