A year ago I blogged about the shepherds and what it must have been like to be there, to have witnessed the heavenly host of angels and to have seen the baby Jesus. How amazing that must have been. Life changing. I can only imagine.
Recently I had another Christmas epiphany… our book club read and discussed (and ate Christmas cookies!) Scott Hahn’s Christmas book Joy to the World. How Christ’s Coming Changed Everything (And Still Does), an amazing explanation and examination of the Christmas story (our favorite Christmas book so far!). The one chapter I enjoyed the most was~ Angels: Echoing Their Joyous Strain. Recently I have been fascinated by angels and angels books (and my own guardian angel and how frustrated he must get with me, haha). I think what blew me away in that chapter was when Professor Hahn explained, “In coming to earth, Jesus united heaven and earth in the praise of God’s glory. Shepherds and angels were, ever afterward, singing from the same hymnal. The song the angels taught the herdsmen, the Gloria, is still part of the Church’s ritual at Sunday Mass.” I had to stop and read that again. Wait… what? The Gloria? That song, the one we sing, sometimes half-heartedly every week, came from … angels?! … Why didn’t I realize this before? Why didn’t I catch that? Why did that amazing truth not blow my mind years ago?! Say it again: The song we sing at Mass EVERY SUNDAY, the beautiful Gloria, was a song that was sung to, and taught to shepherds by ANGELS! ANGELS! A heavenly host of angels! A multitude! A sky filled with them! The night sky illuminated with a choir of angels! Messengers! Teaching poor, humble men how to praise and worship God through song! Can you imagine being knocked to your knees in awe and being swept away by the melodious resounding serenade… angelic voices filling the air, praise and worshipping God the creator… caressing the stars with song…. wow! That moment, one of the most important moments in history, when the angels rejoiced and shared their song~ the Gloria~ with the herdsmen… a song that filled their heads and hearts and sprang forth from their lips as they in chorus themselves marched off to Bethlehem… wow….. just wow. POW! Mind…. blown.
Seriously. I had to really stop and think about that. I had to stop and mull over that image. I had to stop and acknowledge how amazing and important that one song is. God came down to earth and became man (a baby). and to introduce Him ~ angels… a whole army of angels, appeared and gave one of the most important lessons ever given to humans. A song of praise. Look! This is how you glorify God. This is the song. Don’t forget it. Sing it forever.
… and then I realized… the wonderful Catholic Church did not ever forget it. She cherished it. She knew it’s value and purpose. This song is an integral part of the holy sacrifice of the Mass. … this beautiful song shared by angels… and I think I am most blown away by this epiphany and rightly disturbed… because it is a song we take for granted … just another song we sing at Mass. I am disheartened that I hadn’t realized this before. Why did this allude me?
So, now that I know, that I recognize, that I have this vision in my head… when I go to Mass, especially this Christmas eve, when the Gloria is sung I will belt out those words and I will rejoice in my heart knowing that angels are all around us… those same angels from 2,000 years ago… all singing with us… because heaven does come down to earth and sings with us when we glorify God during Mass.
Echoing that one song over the ages…
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth. Lord God heavenly King, almighty God and Father, we worship you, we give you thanks, we praise you for your glory. Lord Jesus Christ, only Son of the Father, Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; have mercy on us; you are seated at the right hand of the Father; receive our prayer. For you alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.