Stores, offices, and all kinds of places are filled with the sound of familiar and heartening Christmas carols. Some local radio stations are all Christmas music all the time with classic and modern renditions of the secular and religious carols and songs – sometimes as recorded by singing chipmunks. It becomes part of the ambiance of our Advent season; part of what readies us for the celebration of Christmas.
During the Masses of Christmas we will again hear the Gospels announce the Good News that to us is born a Savior – and the herald angels will sing. There is a blogging Monsignor who asserts that the angels don’t sing – perhaps can’t sing. I’m sure he is a wonderful priest – but the word “curmudgeon” keeps coming to mind He can’t find a passage in Scripture where angels are definitively held to be singing, therefore, one is left to conclude, the song should be revamped to “Hark the Herald Angels Announce.” Announce? Really? Really???? I think I will stay with the sensus fiedum, the sense of the faithful, and keep the angels singing. But to whom do they sing?
I have been asking children of the parish what they think. Some thought that the angels are singing to the baby Jesus; some think of it as a lullaby. Maybe. If that’s true the angels should probably keep their voices down so as to not wake up the baby Jesus.
We assume that the angels have some real volume behind the singing. After all, Isaiah 6:4 says that the angelic voice shakes and rattles the door posts.
Perhaps the chorus was sung to the King of Kings, a welcome to the world: “Glory to the newborn King!” A scene that will be echoed years later as the crowds of people welcome Jesus to Jerusalem with shouts of “Hosanna!” Luke 2:14 tells us: “And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Hmmm…. this seems to give God the Father praise for sending a Son and then proclaim peace to us who so badly need a savior. I liked one child who thought it was an angelic shout of joy because now their work as guardian angels would be easier because Jesus would keep everyone safe and peaceful. And I think she is on to something with that insight.
I can imagine the guardian angels having toiled all those eons and in every epoch of human history, seeing that, try as we might, the gap between God and people was growing wider, perhaps grew “weary” in an angelic way. But now, in the Son of God taking on our human nature, being like us in all things but sin, there are finally the conditions for the possibility of salvation for we have long been watched over. And so the angels sing to us, to join their chorus:
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
May you raise your voice in joyous praise of God for your salvation has drawn near – Christ is indeed born in Bethlehem.