“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” ~ Luke 2:23-24
The wonder of the person of Christ is here revealed on the date of His birth – heaven and earth ‘kissed,’ and angels and shepherds rejoiced together. Why? Because the child born on that night was both divine and human; He was Deity wrapped in human frailty.
Think about it: Shepherds in the orient at the time of Christ’s birth had a tough, dangerous and not a very dignified job. They were often covered with the smell of the animals and of their feces, and they spent most of their nights under the moonlight, with not much recognition.
But guess what? On that night, God saw them in their filth and tiredness; He met them in their isolation. The clouds suddenly parted and a host of Angels appeared. God was saying to mankind that this new King would not be like Herod or any known king, who lorded it over the people, He would relate with the poor; in fact, they were a key part in His salvation plan. God therefore, remembered these forgotten shepherds and made them the first witnesses of the entrance of God into our world.
What a rapturous sight it would have been? What swelling joy the shepherds felt? What wonder-filled their hearts? The angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” It is this joy that the carol captures as “Gloria, in Excelsis Deo” (Latin for ‘Glory to God in the highest.’). The hymn’s lyric was written in 1862, by James Chadwick, Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, who was inspired by the lyrics of an old French song.
When we sing ‘Angels We Have Heard on High,’ we tell the story of the shepherds and we sing the song of the angels. We describe the shepherds running into neighboring cities and declaring widely, “We have heard angels on high telling of God’s glory wrapped in a babe, in a manger; come to Bethlehem and see Him.” The third stanza of the carol captures this:
Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
On this Christmas morning, let us also, with bended knees, worship Him whom angels bow to; the Light of the world, the King who dines in the palace of kings and sleeps in the cottage of peasants, God in human flesh, the One who redeemed us from every curse and gifted us with God’s very own righteousness. Let us bow our hearts, let us cast our crowns at his feet, let us worship Him with our treasures, and like the shepherds, let us go tell the world that God’s goodwill is extended to them and that in Christ Jesus, heaven can kiss the earth on their account – if they only allow this King to come into their hearts.
See the full lyrics of this carol HERE
You can watch a video of the carol HERE
Worship God for the gift of the newborn King – Jesus Christ.