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Teach Me to Sing the Song of the Angels

Dec 17, 2017 - Rev. Victoria Robb Powers

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The Gloria is the title given to the angels’ song in Luke’s Gospel, and it’s a song that we’ve all sung many times as “Gloria in excelsis Deo.” However, our task this Advent is to learn to sing this song that we all know quite well, but we may not fully understand. We should pause for a moment to consider what this familiar song actually means.

For many of us, or for those we love, this song of praise can only be sung lightly. Praise doesn’t seem effective in our life because suffering and pain seems so much more real than the peace and praise we sing.

However, this song of praise was sung to “lowly” shepherds – poor laborers working the night shift – not the elites. They knew suffering and pain more intimately than most of us, so is this song just trite optimism that makes a reality of suffering even worse?

Rather than simply being an optimistic song about God’s mercy, this song is itself God’s mercy because it has the power to change lives. The angels weren’t singing about God’s mercy; their singing was an act conveying the mercy of God. This is a song of joyful defiance against the suffering and pain of our world, and it proclaims peace that will rest on all people through the work of Jesus Christ.

Even when you and I don’t feel that we can sing praise, the song of the angels and the music of worship can carry us and lift us. The Gloria is a musical expression of God’s glory that can penetrate our burdens and cruel realities and can give us a hopeful vision for a new world in which peace and favor rest on all flesh.

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