Angels We Have Heard on High

It’s no secret that everyone is craving a little more Christmas cheer this year. I’m an early decorator for every season but I had a few friends who never decorate for Christmas send me pictures of their trees up and fully decorated before we even had ours out of the garage. Their reasoning, “I need a little more joy right now.” While you’re searching for that extra joy in this chaotic season, let me invite you to flip your perspective a bit. Let’s take the mundane and routine things and give them new meaning. Let’s open our eyes to what God has to show us. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

One way I’m refocusing my thoughts and attitude this year is to identify the true meaning of the Christmas carols that have become routine. This idea started last year after God gave me an amazing revelation during our very untraditional Christmas service at church. This past Sunday, I felt a God-sized tug on my heart to do a series of posts similar in style to the one from last year. Each post in this series will contain the lyrics to a Christmas song, along with the vision and conviction God has placed on my heart. I invite you to not only read each post with an open mind, but to use the link at the bottom of each post to listen and sing the song with your newfound (or rekindled) meaning. Be sure to come back everyday between now and Christmas to check out the Christmas carol of the day.

Today’s carol is Angels We Have Heard On High. It’s one of mine and Gerri’s favorites as kids. We were drawn to the refrain by how catchy and fun it is to sing. Let’s dive in…

Photo credit: Nativity Movie

Let me set this one up for you. The land of Judea has many different terrains; it has plains, hills and mountains. It’s night, back in a time where there were no street lights. I like to think that even the moonlight was dim on this night. The light on this night would come in the form of God himself being born in the flesh. Since everything pales in comparison, I picture this night very, very dark. Shepherds tending their flocks of sheep in the hilly terrain. Focus on the shepherd for a moment. I imagine him to be dripping with sweat from a hard, laborious day. Possibly even struggling to see in the dark or keep his eyes open. Do you see him starting to drift off? Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared with the good news of a Savior, The Messiah, coming to earth (Luke 2:9). I don’t know about you, but I would fully expect an angel of the Lord to have a grand appearance, something bold with light to offset the darkness of the night. So this shepherd went from a dark night after a long, hard day to a bright angel appearing before him and telling him the Messiah has finally come. “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

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.

Angels We Have Heard On High, Verse 1 & Refrain

Gloria in excelsis deo is Latin for Glory to God in the highest. This section of the song is a literal copy directly from the Bible. So now we have a vast host of angels singing. Angels are not figurative beings that are gentle and quiet. Just like we read in the passage above, angels are the armies of Heaven. They are warriors. Adding just this context completely changes the scene I pictured before. Now, when I think of angels singing it’s not quiet. I imagine loud praises ringing out over the plains, valleys and mountains. If you’ve ever been to the mountains, you know there’s a grandiose echo. So as these angels proclaim their praises to God, the mountains echo their joy, not just back at them but all over the land.

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.

Angels We Have Heard On High, Verse 2 & Refrain

This verse didn’t make sense to me at first, but then I asked myself what I would do if I was the shepherd standing there watching all this unfold. Of course, I would join the angels in singing praises to God! So, now we have an army of angels singing, joined by the shepherd, and I’m sure the sheep. I mean, when you have all of this surrounding you how can any living creature not praise their Creator?

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.

Angels We Have Heard On High, Verse 3 & Refrain

To really capture the glory of this verse, I think it’s important to keep in mind that back in this time, most people believed The Messiah would come as a mighty warrior to overthrow the Roman occupation. No one would have guessed Jesus would come in a less than glorious way. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came as a newborn baby to unwed parents in the lowliest of conditions. Can you see baby Jesus? I bet the look of awe and wonder on your face matches the shepherd who rushed from his flock. I can only imagine his eyes and the heavy gasp as he dropped to his knees in amazement. This image solidifies Jesus as fully human and fully God at the same time.

Angels We Have Heard On High

Finding God’s Blessing and Refocusing My Soul to Expand His Kingdom, ❤ Renee

Be sure to check out the blog post from last year. Gifts Fit For A King

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