Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”Luke 2:13-14
This song that the angels sang was obviously magnificent. The singing was magnificent I am sure. The occasion was magnificent and the words were magnificent. The source of the song was heavenly, the singers were heavenly and the words and music were heavenly. But unfortunately there is no CD or DVD of the first rendering of the song the night of Christ’s birth.
The hymn we know begins with the words that the angels sang when the birth of Christ was announced to shepherds recorded in Luke 2:14. Other verses were added very early, forming a doxology which in the 4th century became part of morning prayers. There are also many musical settings of translations of the Gloria into various languages. The Gloria has encouraged the writing of popular hymns or carols such as Angels We Have Heard on High, Angels from the Realms of Glory, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and While the Shepherds Watched Their Flocks. It also features prominently in many modern popular songs such as “Silence” by Delerium. Modern scholars have catalogued well over two hundred of them. The moment and the songs that have sprung from it are inspirational.
But now is the time to pay more attention to the words brought by the angels. Hearing a song and being captivated by the music is one enjoyable aspect. But what about the words? The music is the medium that delivers the words to our hearts. Let’s look at the words. Did you do anything with my challenge yesterday?
Notice the statement in the song is brief but perfectly balanced:
The three parts of the statement are mirrored by a parallel element.
- Glory // peace
- God // man
- in the highest // on earth
The glory [doxa] is that radiant light that emanates from God’s presence. But we can’t increase that glory or make it any brighter than it already is. But through worshipping Him we can make His name great by recognizing His glory and praising Him for it. As we do that His glory extends from the earth where we are to highest heaven where He is. God is also glorified in the highest heaven by the angels. But the earth now is also the recipient of the glory because of the incarnation, this baby who has been born on earth. God’s glory has therefore entered the earthly realm in a new way. The angels were on earth at the moment singing of that same glory. It must truly have been glorious.
I remember the first time I heard the Album of John Michael Talbot’s “The Lord Supper” there was some added extra to the song and the atmosphere it created. Something in the singing that brought the presence of God close. How much more this moment when the angels came down to earth to glorify God. Wow I wish there was a CD.
But there is more. Because of this event and because of God’s glory there will be peace for men (and women) on earth. Peace between mankind and God, no longer any estrangement because He has sent His son who will pay the price to redeem us. Peace also in the truest sense of the Hebrew word (Shalom) which conveys the inner harmony that comes to a soul that is reunited with its creator and is functioning fully as He meant it. The harmony of the state of being that is generated when we are at “peace with God”. Fully accepted in Him.
There in addition to all these balanced elements there is one segment that sticks out like a sore thumb and attracts attention because of that and because it doesn’t fit the symmetry of it all. Namely to men “WITH WHOM GOD IS PLEASED”. Does this cause you to remember a portion of the Old Testament? How do we please God?
Does Micah 6:8 come to mind? “He has shown you, Oh man, what is good, and what the LORD requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
The Law and the Prophets have taught this model but now the Son of God // Son of Man comes to demonstrate it, even by the humility of His birth. This comes to people with whom God is pleased. Those who are in right standing with Him know His peace. Although it results in “good will” of man; good will among mankind, it is not contingent on that. Right standing with God results in good will among men.
Now that is good news and something to sing about. Better still if the angels descend and help us in the song. Imagine what His second coming will be like if the first one produced such an angelic concert. And we will be there for that coming concert!
We are in church not just to sing worship songs; we are in church TO BE A worship song … to God!Anon
Life is like listening to a favourite song; The purpose is not to reach the end, but to enjoy every note along the way.Sidney Mohede
Many of us die with the music still in us.Oliver Wendell Holmes