Glory in the Highest
8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Angels appeared four times during the Christmas story, each time saying “Do not be afraid.” They appeared to Joseph, Mary, Zacharias, and to the shepherds, each time with good news about the coming birth of the Messiah. They came to tell Zacharias that his elderly wife would bear a child who would be John the Baptist, the first prophet sent from God in centuries, who would fulfill the prophecies of old. They told Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because the child she carried was of God, and they told Mary not to be afraid to carry this child because He was the Son of God, sent to save sinners! And they told the shepherds in the field not to be afraid, but to rejoice that Jesus was born, the promised Messiah!
I cannot imagine how frightening it must have been to be visited by a messenger of God. How amazing it must have been to have been in the fields with those shepherds, just ordinary men taking care of their livestock, to have witnessed one of the most glorious sights anyone has ever seen: the heavenly host praising God! What must they have thought? The text says they were “greatly afraid” and I imagine them sitting there in the fields, tired from the day’s work, when all of a sudden, there was a supernatural light, and the angel appeared telling them that the old prophecy was being fulfilled that very day! And then the multitude of them singing God’s praise right there in the field! How magnificent!
I think I might just be a little bit afraid, how about you?
There are many hymns about this scene, but my favorite is this one:
This version is by the fantastic British boy’s choir, Libera. If you like that kind of music, check out their site…