Friday, December 6, 2013

The Angels Didn't Sing

I know what you’re thinking. “Of course the angels sang. Everyone sings about it.”

“Hark the herald angels sing”


“Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plain”

I’m sorry to disillusion you, but the carols got it wrong. Look at what the scripture actually says:

Luke 2:13-14 “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

Yup. They said it, not sang it. This quote is from the New Living Translation, but all the others I checked also use saying, even the King James.

Okay, so the angels didn’t sing to the shepherds, but Isaiah and John saw them singing in heaven, didn’t they?

Nope. Both men saw angels praising God with the words, “holy, holy, holy.” But Isaiah heard them calling out to each other (Isaiah6:3) and John heard them say it (Revelation 4:8).

Maybe I’m right (and maybe I’m wrong – there must be a reason everyone thinks angels sing), but so what? Did I just ruin your Christmas with my pickiness about words?

Here’s what I think. There are lots and lots of occasions in the Bible where people sing, from Moses and Miriam to David to Paul and Silas. There are even people – not angels - singing in heaven (Revelation 5:8-10). So I think singing is one of God’s special gifts to people. I think it’s a very particular way He has given for us to praise Him. In fact, I think it’s one of the ways we’re made in His image.

I found one place in the Bible where God sings.

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
Zephaniah 3:17(NLT)

This passage is talking about Israel’s rebellion against God and God’s redemption of His people. God celebrates His salvation by singing over His beloved. He’s singing over us. We are the ones He came to save. We are the ones He came to live among. We respond by singing with joy.

The angels aren’t singing, because they’re not the ones He came to save. We should be the ones singing.

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.” 

Guess what Ruby Joy (isn't that appropriate?) finds in chapter five of the book.

You can meet the author, Jerusha Agen, here.


  1. You are always "here" with a good word. Yes, we should be singing and in my heart I am.

  2. I'm singing too, Nancy. Too bad I can't carry a tune!