“Glory to God in the highest”
I have been finding a great blessedness in these last few months in definitely obeying the command “Let them sing aloud upon their God!” – I remembered Pearsall Smith half a lifetime ago, saying in a meeting – at the first Oxford Conference or thereabout – that he wondered how many present had ever obeyed it. But the seed thought has never got vitalized til now. (5 February 1919)
Scripture: Luke 2:13-14
- What was the context of the appearance of the heavenly host?
- What was the purpose of their appearance?
- What was their message?
Meditation on Scripture
Who can imagine the impact on the shepherds, already stunned by the angel announcement of a baby savior’s birth, when a great company of angels suddenly appear on the scene? In what must have been one of the purest expressions of praise, they of one accord declared:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace to men
on whom his favor rests.”
Through the ages man has tried to capture some sense of that glory through individual expressions of praise. Artists have applied pen and paint to represent angels bearing all manner of instruments to accompany the heavenly hymns of praise. Fra Angelico was immortalized for his angel musicians clothed in gold-embroidered robes, playing celestial instruments: brilliant brass, booming drums, slender flutes, golden harps. Composers have created in music their concept of what that moment must have sounded like: Handel follows a recitative in the Messiah with a burst of joyous chorus accompanied by brass instruments “Glory to God” while Vivaldi, inspired by angel-praise, built an entire Cantata – Gloria – on this theme. Children draped in angel robes lend their sweet voices to lining songs of praise. Poets and saints labor to catch in words the essence of praise. “Glory to God!”
And yet, for all the inspiration evoked from this grand and glorious moment in history – when heaven broke through to earth – Scripture could not be clearer in the purpose of praise: to bring honor to our living Savior. Scripture, likewise, takes praise a step further, beyond our verbal or artistic offerings or, for that matter, even our most costly sacrifices – to a matter of a life response: praising God with our entire beings… praising God in our daily walk of obedience to Him. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” (I Samuel 15:22)
Let us continue to try to capture the moment in song, art, and words. But let us go further and proclaim our praise in the manner which truly pleases God: bringing glory to Him through our lives.
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