Examining Christmas traditions #1: Do angels sing?

It’s the Christmas season and the lights are up inside homes and all over the neighborhood. Children are having photos with Santa and moms and dads are hurriedly finishing their shopping lists. Kids at school are doing Christmas crafts with paint and Popsicle sticks and teachers are counting the days until Christmas vacation. Churches have cookie swaps and families enjoy the annual classics, “It’s A Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Frosty The Snowman”, and “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In the south where it is warmer and more rural, many places host a live Nativity, where animals roam in an enclosure and a manger is set up with shepherds, Joseph, Mary, and a baby (or a doll) for the enjoyment and interest of the locals. These are some of our annual traditions here in America.

There are traditions regarding the Christmas story within the faith, also. We have Christmas carols with lyrics that say that angels sing, set up nativity scenes with Wise Men, erect Christmas trees, and more.

Do these traditions have any bearing from scripture? If not should we care? If not, should we abandon them? Accept them? Are we disrespecting Christ by perpetuating them? Or not?

In this essay from Answers In Genesis, “Hark! The Herald Angels Said?“, the author wrote,

The idea of angels singing on the night of Christ’s birth has become so common that many are surprised to learn that the Bible does not unequivocally state this. This example provides a good opportunity to discuss traditions. In and of themselves, traditions are not wrong, but they must be based on and consistent with Scripture. If they contradict Scripture, then they must be rejected. …

One of the points of this series on misconceptions is to lead us all to look closely at what the Bible teaches. Far too often traditions have been the basis of our thinking, and we end up believing things that are not found in Scripture. We have heard and sung about angels singing on that night so often that many do not bother to look closely at the text.

Looking at the specific issue of whether angels sing, we do know there are a great many Christmas carols saying they do. However, scripture never indicates once that the angels sing. They shout, proclaim, and praise, but not sing. However, given the various contexts in which they are rejoicing, such as on the night Jesus was born, it is possible they they sang, also.

Answers In Genesis explains things from their view:

As we wrap up this Christmas article (pun intended), you are probably wondering if the angels did sing to the shepherds. In light of the fact that there is a strong connection between praising and singing in the Bible, and since angels, in all likelihood, are capable of singing, there exists biblical support for the tradition of singing angels found in the Christmas hymns.

GotQuestions thinks they do. Robin Schumacher thinks they do. John MacArthur thinks they do. J. Vernon McGee doesn’t think so. Phillip Holmes at Desiring God doesn’t think so either.

Since scripture doesn’t say one way or the other if angels sing, we are not being unscriptural by singing carols that say they do. It’s a tradition that isn’t harmful to a person’s faith if they want to believe angels sing. The point of the season is to focus on Jesus, His incarnation, and respond with song, praise, and worship.

AiG finishes this way:

In any case, when we think about God’s amazing gift of a Savior to mankind on that night, we should glorify and praise God, whether in spoken word or in song, just as the shepherds did on that incredible night after they had seen the newborn King.