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"Listen to the Angels Singing"
Contributor Two Contributor Two
Listen to the Angels Singing

Listen to the angels singing —
Listen to the angels singing —
    Singing, “Gloria! Gloria!”
Listen to the angels singing —
Listen to the angels singing —
    Singing, “Gloria! Gloria!”
Who ever thought
That a baby would have brought
the good news?
    Hear the angels singing!

Loping out across the desert,
Trudging through the shifting sand,
Peering at the constellations, hasten
Scholars from a distant land,
       Across the sand
             Across the land
Where a new star is shinin’ tonight
And don’t you know that it’s right overhead
and in sight
          of where the angels are singing.

Something’s stirring on the hillside —
Sheep are restless in the fold —
Young man stirring dying embers,
    Stories told him by the old
                In the cold —
                      Stories old.
Then the sky starts exploding with light
And then the night is a circus of bright
shiny wings —
           Glory — Angels singing!

Lyric: William J. Gaither and Gloria Gaither Music: William J. Gaither, Michael Sykes and Woody Wright ©2001


If the angels sang their announcement of the Messiah’s birth, what was the tune? What was the rhythm? We know it was joyous, and it got the shepherds’ attention—it must have been some kind of music that spoke to average shepherds. They weren’t classical music buffs, after all, and there was not time for a quick refresher course in music appreciation.

It seems that God has a habit of making His utterances in forms we can understand. When God communed with Adam and Eve, His voice was not only clear and precise (Name the animals, eat all the plants and herbs; don’t eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil), but welcome (They looked forward to walking with Him in the cool of the day).

When God spoke to Moses, His voice came from a bush that burned but “was not consumed” (Exodus 3:2). God also spoke to the children of Israel thunderously and in smoke, from a dark cloud, and through an earthquake. He wrote with His finger on a table of stone, lest there be any mistaking what He needed His people to know.

Samuel, young and innocent, heard God calling him softly by name in the silence of the night. To David, God spoke not only through an angel, but often through inspiration as he played on his lyre under the night sky.

For Ezekiel, the troubling Spirit of the Lord “came upon” him and told him what to say to the people, but God spoke to Balaam through his donkey because Balaam was too insensitive to recognize an angel in his path when he saw one.

So, how did God “sing” His message to shepherds? Could it be to the rhythmic bleating of the flock the shepherds were tending that the angels started to sing, the volume swelling until the shepherds finally realized it was more than sheep they were hearing? Music! It was music! And the light that started out as a bright moon and unusually evident stars—how bright did it have to get before the shepherds looked up to see the heavens alive with angels?

How like God to sing His song to the least likely! Not the faculty at the conservatory; they would have critiqued it. Not the players of the royal symphony; they might have insisted on another key. No. God made His announcement to shepherds, and, at first, the song probably sounded a lot like the sweet night lowing of sheep with lambs.

And to what drumbeat did the Magi ride for miles across the desert? Was there a tune that kept going through their heads as their camels plodded across the soft sand? Could they have sung the ancient word that meant “bright promise? The wonder has returned? Gloria! Gloria!” I don’t know, but I do know it’s just like God to speak to us all right where we are in the rhythms of our regular lives, so we might come to recognize the singing of angels and the very whisper of God.