“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
I grew up in a sober, psalm-singing church that allowed a few hymns if their words were straight from the Bible. This angels’ song was the trickiest, fanciest, and most moving hymn we had. We sang its phrases in parts, softly, then loudly—and when we reached the end, we did them over again, closing with a series of amens. Even though we now have hundreds of hymns available in books or on projection screens, I still cannot sing the words of that song without choking up a little.
And why not?
As the angels make the heavens ring with their song, they say it all, don’t they? This is, indeed, “good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” The angels bring glory to God in heaven for his mercy and love. They also assure us here on earth that peace and favor come to us from God. The angels’ song nicely unwraps God’s Christmas present.
Though the words make a perfect summary of the Christmas story, it’s odd that we do not sing them more often.
The shepherds caught on, however. They ran to the stable, saw the Christ child, and went back to work, “glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen.” I imagine they may have sung a few bars of the angels’ chorus along the way.
Father in heaven, we join the angels and shepherds in praising you today for the gift of your Son. We bring glory to you, “in the highest heaven and on earth.” In Jesus, Amen.
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