Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God. . . .
Angels play an important role throughout the entire birth narrative of Jesus. An angel visits Zechariah to announce the coming of John, who would prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry (Luke 1:11-20). An angel appears to Mary to announce the coming of Jesus, the Son of God (Luke 1:28-38). An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, urging him to stay with Mary because she is carrying the baby Jesus, who will “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Then, when Jesus is actually born and an angel announces his birth, a crowd of angels appears, lighting up the night sky in the fields near Bethlehem. “A great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God. . . .” This was no simple birth announcement—the Savior of the world had come!
“Angels We Have Heard On High” tells the story in a beautifully lyrical way. And the refrain picks up the angels’ song, using the Latin phrase “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” which means “Glory to God in the highest.” The angels could not contain their praise.
As we celebrate Christmas this season, we are reminded of God’s great love for us in the birth of Jesus. Like the angels, we too have the opportunity to burst into praise. And let’s invite others to join us as we give glory to God, for the Savior has come!
Dear Jesus, may we celebrate your birth by rejoicing and joining with others in singing your praise. Amen.