A theme of Angels and “holy interruptions”
When is the best time to start listening to Christmas music? Spotify completed their “holiday homework” and reported that the demand for Christmas music rises about a week before Thanksgiving and continues throughout the holiday season. That’s about 6 to 8 weeks of Christmas music!
This year, the King of King’s contemporary worship band began including Christmas music on the First Advent Sunday. That’s 5 weeks worth of Christmas music! On November 27th, the band led congregational worship with for KING & COUNTRY’s rendition of “Angels We Have Heard On High.” It was such a joy to witness a congregation filled with worshippers praising God and the birth of Jesus Christ through song and dance!
Growing up, when Christmas music started to play, it was the best time of year. My family was especially a fan of Christmas songs about the Angels. I remember my sister and I used to practice singing the long melisma (many notes on one syllable) of “Gloria” from “Angels We Have Heard On High.” We wanted to get through the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” in only one breath.
“Angels we have heard on high” displays a common theme in Christian hymn singing – a chorus that begins in heaven with the angels and a global chorus resounding in response. “The mountains in reply” echo back that response by symbolizing the participation of the earth. This traditional French Christmas hymn originated between the early to mid-1800’s and includes one of the few texts that modern congregations regularly sing in latin. The translation for “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” can be found in Luke 2:14, which is a familiar biblical Christmas reading. A heavenly host proclaims to shepherds in their fields, “Glory to God in the highest!”
The past few weeks, Pastor Jon and Pastor Dan have led us through advent messages highlighting God’s holy interruptions. In just the first few chapters of Luke, the importance of the Angels as God’s holy messengers and their role in God’s most well-known holy interruptions is demonstrated. God’s heavenly host minister’s to His people the plans He has for them and miracles made. Just as Pastor Jon told us, it can be the human response to “freak out.” Luke 1:12, 30, and 2:9 tell us that Zechariah, Mary, and a field full of shepherds were filled with great fear at the sight of the Angels. That is why it is also the Angels’ role to validate God’s men. These mighty beings inform us that the plans God has for us and why He has chosen us are good despite our limited human beliefs that we think we know best for our lives. After all, the miracles told in the first two chapters of Luke were first announced, not to kings or temples, but to men and women at home and in fields.
Another well-liked, Angels singing Christmas carol is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” which was performed by the worship band at contemporary worship on 12/11. This carol was initially written as a hymnal poem in the mid-1700’s, where the writer was inspired by the sounds of the church bells on Christmas day. The declaration “Hark” is meant to imitate the sound of church bells ringing on Christmas day! This Christmas carol also arguably coined the term “the newborn king.” We can look forward to singing together with bells and Angels to praise the birth of Jesus Chirst, the newborn king, on Christmas day.
Angels We Have Heard On High – for KING & COUNTRY
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – Lincoln Brewster
Speaking of Spotify, if you’ve enjoyed the songs we are doing and have done in contemporary worship (Christmas AND non-Christmas) and use Spotify yourself, please check out our own King of Kings playlist! This regularly updated playlist – “What We’re Listening To” – was put together by Sam Johnson and Jake Pickett as a way to engage yourself in worship throughout the week!
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