Christmas Carols - Angels We Have Heard On High

Christmas Carols - Angels We Have Heard On High


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!


Shepherds, why this jubilee?

Why your joyous strains prolong?

What the gladsome tidings be

Which inspire your heavenly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see

Him whose birth the angels sing;

Come, adore on bended knee,

Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Bishop James Chadwick wrote the English version of “Angels We Have Heard on High” in 1862 to sing of the story in the gospel of Luke and the announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ.  The opening scene of this carol begins with shepherds outside Bethlehem observing a multitude of angels that have gathered in the night sky to proclaim: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests” (Luke 2:14). What an awesome scene it must have been for the simple shepherds to witness a sky full of worshiping angels..  In addition to a host of singing angels, the composer then includes the mountains “echoing their joyous strains,” as well!

The composer presents the resounding, repeated chorus sung by God’s creation, the angels, the mountains, and then the shepherds with the Latin phrase “Gloria, in Excelsis Deo” meaning “Glory to God in the highest”.   Gloria meaning renown, greatness, honor, and power; all attributes of God   What could have caused heaven and earth to worship and sing praise in such a majestic way?  How could all this exuberance be over the birth of a seemingly gentle baby, born in humble surroundings?  This was no ordinary baby, this was Jesus Christ, the Son of God who was sent by God the Father to come in the flesh to become the spotless lamb that provides the means for the forgiveness of sin of mankind.

Finally, with this amazing truth, this understanding of who this Christ-child is, we are all are invited to come and see, to join in the impassioned worship, and to add to the heavenly chorus that declares the birth of not just any little baby but the newborn King of Kings! 

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