A Song in the Night

I love music. I love the emotions that the words and the notes invoke. I love the story it tells. I love stories in general, to be honest. If I didn’t, I think I’d be in the wrong profession! I also love one story in particular: the story of the birth of Christ.

The hymn below invokes emotion, it strives to capture the next event in our story. We have just caught a glimpse of Mary, and the child she is carrying – the child that will save the world.  Now, the narrative moves to an unlikely group of characters: shepherds. These shepherds experience something extraordinary. I would highly recommend listening to the hymn as you read through this and to use the Bible verses I will be quoting to fill in any details that you still need.

Ready? Here we go.

“Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o’er the plains;
And the mountains in reply,
Echoing their joyous strains.
Shepherds why this jubilee,
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be?
Which inspire your Heavenly song.”

The first few verses of this song are describing the events that can be found in Luke 2.

“And there were Shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” – Luke 2:8-10 (NIV)

This news of great joy is the birth of Jesus Christ.

“Today in the town of David, a Saviour has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:11 (NIV)

As if this was not extraordinary enough, something else happens:

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.” – Luke 2:13-14 (NIV)

This is where the next two verses of the hymn come in:

“Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

Now this seems odd…who is this Gloria person, and where does she fit into this whole story? Well, she doesn’t fit in anywhere, because these words (in case some of you don’t know) are Greek, and they mean “Glory to God in the Highest”.

So, what did the Shepherds do after they had experienced one of the most significant events in all of human history? They did what any sane person would do when an angel appears to them and gives good news…they went to see it for themselves!

“Come to Bethlehem and see

Him whose birth the Angels sing.
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the New-born King

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

See Him in a manger laid
Jesus Lord of Heaven and Earth
Mary, Joseph lend your aid
With us sing our Saviours Birth

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!”

The events that are being described here are found in Luke 2:15:

“When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about the child, and all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.” – Luke 2:15-19 (NIV)

The birth of Jesus did not occur without an announcement. It shook the world, starting with the mild disruption of the evening routine of a group of shepherds. I bet that their lives were never the same again after that, and neither should yours.

“Gloria in Excelsis Deo.”

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