Sometimes, the hymns we sing are so familiar we forget to listen to the words we are singing. I know I do, especially when it comes to our beloved Christmas hymns and carols. Unconsciously, they just trip off the tongue from all the years I have sung them.
One of those hymns we have sung over the past couple of weeks is “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The very first verse of the hymn paints a beautiful picture.
“Angels we have heard on high
sweetly singing o’er the plains.
And the mountains in reply
echoing their joyous strains.”
We see the shepherds camped beneath the stars, gathered around a campfire, sheep bedded down all around them. Suddenly, the stillness of the night is shattered by the voices of angels. They are singing so joyously their voices travel throughout the valley where the shepherds have bedded down for the night. Then, the song of the angels returns to the shepherds as they echo off the surrounding mountains, adding to the joyous “strains” of the angels. What a marvelous scene the writer of this hymn paints for us!
And what are the angels singing?
“Gloria, in exclesis deo! (Glory to God in the highest)
Gloria, in exclesis deo! (Glory to God in the highest)”
The shepherds are so moved by the song of the angels they add their own voices to the growing chorus of angels and mountains. All the while, the world wants to know what the angels were singing to inspire such a joyous response?
“Shepherds will this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What gladsome tiding be
Which inspire your heavenly song?”
Then, the angels give us our answer along with instructions on how to approach the one they are to go and see.
“Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing:
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.”
This extraordinary sight invokes a response:
“Gloria, in exclesis deo! (Glory to God in the highest!)
Gloria, in exclesis deo! (Glory to God in the highest!)”
When we allow them to do so, our hymns tell our faith stories in beautiful song.
Be blessing to someone today!