The theme for today’s devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah is ”Angels We Have Heard on High”
“Gloria in excelsis Deo”—the chorus to “Angels We Have Heard on High” is distinct and rings through our head and heart each Christmas. The phrase originated in southern France where shepherds used to call out through song to each other on Christmas Eve, “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” According to some, the phrase may have come from a Medieval Latin chorale. In 1916 Edward Barnes arranged and printed our modern version of the carol.1 But what a vivid reminder of that first Christmas occurred each Christmas Eve in France—angels and shepherds rejoicing at the birth of the Savior.
What would Christmas be without angels? The greatest concentration of angelic activity in the Bible undoubtedly surrounds the life of Christ—His birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return. Whether visible or invisible, angels hovered around the Son of Man at His every step. They announced His birth to Zacharias, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. They ministered to Him after He was tempted. He spoke of them frequently in His teachings. They comforted Him in the Garden and were ready to deliver Him from the cross, had He called. They proclaimed His resurrection, explained His ascension, and worshiped with joy at His re-enthronement.
So it was with awe and wonder that the multitudes of heaven assembled one night over a little scruffy patch of pasture on the outskirts of Bethlehem. They came on wind and wing: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!’” (Luke 2:14)
Is the phrase “Gloria in excelsis Deo” echoing through your mind now like it is in mine? As Christmas approaches, it can be easy to allow the busyness of the days to fill our mind. So today take a moment to stop and give God the glory for the gift of His Son. Write down three reasons you have to give God glory. Then pray together and thank Him for all He has done for you!
Shepherds, why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? Say what may the tidings be Which inspire your heav’nly song? Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo.
- “Angels We Have Heard on High,” Center for Church Music.