Angels We Have Heard on High


What I discover most fascinating in regards to the look of the angels to the shepherds is their message and their music, as a result of the angels’ message and music unlock the key of why the shepherds have been essential to St. Luke.

The angels’ message is “Be not afraid; for behold, I convey you excellent news of an ideal pleasure which is able to come to all of the individuals; for to you is born this present day within the metropolis of David a Savior, who’s Christ the Lord. And this shall be an indication for you: one can find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and mendacity in a manger.”

The angels’ music is “Glory to God within the highest, / and on earth peace amongst males with whom he’s happy.”

This mixture of a message and a music echoes the opposite angelic appearances within the tales about Jesus’ delivery. The “angel of the Lord” seems to Zechariah and prophesies John the Baptist’s delivery. The story is instructed within the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel, and after the message and the delivery comes the Track of Zechariah. In the identical chapter, the angel Gabriel seems to the Virgin Mary, and after the angelic message comes Mary’s music, the Magnificat.

This methodology of storytelling has its roots within the Outdated Testomony and most frequently accompanies a supernatural intervention. After some nice motion of the Lord, the story is recounted within the type of each prose storytelling and an accompanying model within the type of a hymn or poem. So when the Israelites are delivered from slavery in Egypt by crossing the Pink Sea, the story of their salvation is expounded, and Moses and his sister Miriam echo the story with a music of reward.

Likewise, when the Lord provides the choose Deborah victory over Israel’s enemy Sisera, Deborah retells the story in a music of reward. When Samuel’s mom, Hannah, has her prayer for a son answered, she echoes the story along with her music of thanksgiving. This sample is accomplished within the story of Jesus’ delivery when Mary and Joseph take the Little one to be offered within the Temple. There they meet the holy previous man Simeon and Anna the prophetess. After they see the kid, the occasion is remembered in Simeon’s music, the Nunc Dimittis: “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, in accordance with thy phrase . . .”

Why are the poem songs following the story of God’s intervention essential? As a result of they assist us perceive how individuals in historical societies handed on the essential occasions to the following technology.

Narrative poetry is clear as a major mode of storytelling in most historical civilizations. The youthful technology memorize the tales that retell the essential historical past of their individuals within the type of narrative poetry.

Clinton Bailey is an American scholar who has lived and labored among the many Bedouin individuals within the land of Palestine for greater than forty years. In his e-book Bedouin Tradition and the Bible, he tracks lots of of similarities between the tradition of the Bedouin tribes and the Hebrew faith and customs recorded within the Outdated Testomony.

To know how essential his work is, we have to perceive the antiquity of the Bedouin tradition. Though present-day Bedouin are largely Muslims, their way of life is greater than seven thousand years previous. Their lifestyle is rooted within the faith and customs of the nomadic tribes who lived within the historical Center East from Outdated Testomony instances. The best way they stay immediately as nomadic and seminomadic shepherds is essentially unchanged from the time of the biblical patriarchs. Put merely, Clinton Bailey exhibits how Bedouin tradition parallels what we all know of early Hebrew tradition. The Jewish individuals emerged from the identical roots because the Bedouin, and their household likeness continued proper by to New Testomony instances.

Bailey data how the Bedouin use memorized genealogies, proverbs, and poetry to move on their traditions and historical past. Memorization is essential when a lot of the inhabitants are illiterate. The memorized genealogies, proverbs, and poems are balanced with extra expansive prose storytelling. The Bedouin are particularly keen on passing on tales of remarkable occasions—the heroism and cleverness of one in all their patriarchs or a supernatural occasion that remodeled the life and tradition.

If we need to get an image of a Bethlehem shepherd, it’s not an Englishman wearing tweeds together with his sheepdog on a mountainside in Yorkshire. It’s a Bedouin herdsman dwelling in a tent or a cave home within the unforgiving local weather and countryside of Palestine, Jordan, Syria, or Western Arabia.

The imaginative and prescient and message of the angels would have been handed down from technology to technology of shepherds, and the mixture of genealogies, narrative poems, and storytelling within the infancy narratives exhibits that they have been initially a part of the folklore of the native herdsmen.

The angel’s message to the shepherds and their music of reward matches the image of God’s interplay with the Hebrew individuals down by historical past, and the angels’ music of reward is complemented by the message asserting the Messiah’s delivery—a message that’s accompanied by a mysterious signal.


This text is tailored from a chapter in The Secret of the Bethlehem Shepherds by Fr. Dwight Longenecker which is offered from Sophia Institute Press.

Artwork for this put up: Cowl and featured picture used with permission.

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