Posted in sing, theology

There’s singing, and there’s singing

By Elizabeth Prata

Paul was going about doing his business preaching the Gospel and ministering, and a demon-possessed slave girl kept following them and shouting that they were from God showing the way to salvation. Irked at having a demonic forerunner, Paul finally exorcised the demon from her. However, her owners seeing that their hope of gain was gone, had Paul and his companion Silas arrested and beaten. Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison. Continue reading “There’s singing, and there’s singing”

Posted in angels, christmas, shepherds, sing

Do Angels Sing?

At school last week, I wandered down the hall and enjoyed looking at all the kids’ projects hung up for display. I noticed one where the child had innocently renamed the famous Christmas song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to “Heart the Herald Angels Sing.” I thought that was cute.

Many Christmas songs refer to angels singing. Not just Hark the Herald Angels sing, but also in the song, “Angels we have Heard on High”, the first lyric goes,

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o’er the plain

And the chorus is,

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;

Also, “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”, where we read the lyrics,

The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing

Lots and lots of songs state that the angels sing. But does the bible say the same? No. Angels (probably) don’t sing. Or maybe they do. Here is Tim Chaffey from Answers in Genesis on the facts of the matter and why they matter:

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. 

At the same time, we don’t want to be guilty of going too far in the other direction. Just because the Bible doesn’t explicitly state that they did sing does not necessarily mean that they did not. Some have even argued that angels do not or cannot sing at all, but those who make this claim must adequately address Job 38:7 and other passages that seem to support the idea that they can and have sung. Furthermore, there is no biblical or logical reason why they could not sing. Angels are highly intelligent beings who are capable of speaking. Why would they be incapable of putting those words into song, especially since other beings in heaven sing (Revelation 5:9–14)? 

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.

EPrata collage

I agree. It’s one of those concepts that has embedded itself into culture so deeply we tend to stop looking at scripture to see if it is so.

Singing and praising are closely connected but not necessarily the same. God could have endowed his humans with an innate tendency to praise in song, and perhaps did not give that same tendency to angels, who mostly are declared in the bible to proclaim and to praise and to shout but not to sing.

On the one hand, J. Vernon McGee did not believe angels sing:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying [not singing], Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased. (Luke 2:9-14). They should have been singing. And the only place they seem to be singing is on the Christmas cards that I get. But they don’t sing in the Word of God. If there ever was a time when angels should have been singing, it was here in the Gospel of Luke when that angel made the announcement of the birth of Christ.

McGee says that he believes angels do not sing because they were never lost sinners and were never redeemed. “It is to the redeemed that God has given a song,” McGee wrote. And for the record, as Chaffey mentioned, McGee did adequately address Job 38:7 in his sermon. I tend to agree with McGee on the concept of angels not singing and also his interpretation of Job 38:7.

However, Charles Spurgeon did believe angels sang. In his sermon, “The First Christmas Carol“, Spurgeon preached,

And mark how well they told the story, and surely you will love them! Not with the stammering tongue of him that tells a tale in which he hath no interest; nor even with the feigned interest of a man that would move the passions of others, when he feeleth no emotion himself; but with joy and gladness, such as angels only can know. They sang the story out, for they could not stay to tell it in heavy prose. They sang, “Glory to God on high, and on earth peace, good will towards men.” Methinks they sang it with gladness in their eyes; with their hearts burning with love, and with breasts as full of joy as if the good news to man had been good news to themselves.

EPrata photo & collage

Whether you believe angels sing or do not sing isn’t the point. It is that we should always examine our traditions (including Christmas carols) to remind us that ultimate truth comes from the bible. Always examine these things to see if they are so.

I’ll end with Spurgeon’s joyous sermon closing he delivered on December 20, 1857 at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens-

May God give you peace with yourselves; may he give you good will towards all your friends, your enemies, and your neighbors; and may he give you grace to give glory to God in the highest. I will say no more, except at the close of this sermon to wish every one of you, when the day shall come, the happiest Christmas you ever had in your lives.

Posted in encouragement, Lamb, sing

The Lamb is worthy- we sing a new song!

The Lamb is Worthy
…8When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. (Revelation 5:8-9)

A new song?

Public Domain

The word song in this verse, in the Greek is ōdḗ  and it means just that, a song. Strong’s 5603 (ōdḗ) is defined, “in the NT of spontaneous, impromptu (unrehearsed) melodies of praise – not merely sung about (for) God but to God from a Spirit-filled heart. Spirit-inspired songs minister to God and exhort others, giving testimony about the living God to other worshipers.”

In his verse-by-verse exposition of Revelation, Oliver B. Greene says,

There is no song recorded in the book of Genesis. The Patriarchs were men of seriousness and deep thought. The first song on earth of which we have any record, is found in Exodus 15. The deliverance which had been wrought for Israel (Exodus 14) formed the theme and material for the song (Exodus 15:1-19) and the refrain (Exodus 15:21).

The old song is God’s celebrated song of creation (Job 38:7). The song here in Revelation is termed “a new song” because its theme, Redemption, when fully accomplished, will create “all things new.” In the end, all things will be new, all evil and old things as a result of sin will be put down, put away, totally destroyed.

It is the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3). The song celebrates God’s past ways with Israel and His present grace through the Lamb slain. Grand as might have been the song of Israel when sung on the eastern bank of the Red Sea, this song in its character and the occasion when it is sung, is incomparably greater. There is no comparison between the old song of Israel and this new song of Redemption. THE REDEEMED (Jew and Gentile, bond and free, rich and poor) SING OF HIM AND TO HIM! They sing, “Thou art worthy to take the book and to open its seals.”

He is so worthy! Sing of His worthiness!

Furhter Reading

The Spirit Filled Song, devotional by John MacArthur