As vast numbers of angels swiftly descended toward earth through the star sprinkled sky, the leading angel halted them with a sign. They hovered with folded wings over a silent field near Bethlehem. "There they are," said the leading angel, "the humble shepherds who have been chosen by God to receive our message. It will be the most wonderful news that mortal man has ever received. Are you ready with your great angelic chorus?"
The leading angel drifted slightly downward so that he could be seen by the shepherds below. They were terrified! Each one of them covered his face in the brilliance of the light but earnestly listened with awe as the vision before him began to speak in his own language:
"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11).
Instantly surrounding the angel was the brilliant heavenly host, and echoing through the sky was the most beautiful singing that the shepherds had ever heard, exulting and praising God for the long-awaited gift of His Son. They made haste to see the Savior with their own eyes.
The Bible teaches that angels are the ministering servants of God and that they are continually being sent to help and protect us, the heirs of salvation. Certainly their most important task, however, was this momentous occasion announcing Christ's arrival on earth!
Although little is known of its origins, this inspiring eighteenth-century French carol has become a universal favorite.
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 heav'nly song?
Come to Bethlehem and see Him whose birth the angels sing;
come, adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn King.
See Him in a manger laid, Jesus, Lord of heav'n and earth;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid, with us sing our Savior's birth.
Chorus: Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo!