I wonder how many people know the first Christmas song recorded in history. No, it isn’t Jingle Bells. It is The Magnificat. For those who are scratching their heads and saying, “Huh?”, this is the song Mary sang after the angel Gabriel appeared to her announcing she had found favor with God and was chosen to be the mother of Jesus. In her joy, she sang a song of praise, similar to the one Hannah sang in the Old Testament when she dedicated Samuel. The Magnificat means My Soul Magnifies the Lord in Latin.
Okay, enough of the history lesson. After The Magnificat, I believe the second Christmas song was The First Noel (although, perhaps technically, it should be the Second Noel) since it was the song sung by angels to certain the frightened shepherds after the angel announced the birth of Jesus to them. However, Hubby, the paid professional holy man and killjoy informs me that nowhere in Scripture is it recorded that angels sing. He maintains that angels chant, they don’t sing. This revelation has totally ruined a number of my favorite carols and other hymns for me, and I beg to differ with him. For example, doesn’t Hark the Herald clearly say angels sing? What about Angels We Have Heard on High? Aren’t they sweetly singing o’er the plain? And don’t angels greet with anthems sweet in What Child is This? Even the hymn Tell Me the Story of Jesus states that the angels in Heaven sang as they welcomed his (Jesus’) birth.
Besides, in pictures of angels, they are often depicted holding harps or songbooks. The book of Revelation states that a new song will be sung in Heaven. This may irritate the traditional folk who don’t like newfangled praise music, but they’ll have to get used to the new song if they want to take part in the worship in Heaven. Unless they want to sit with their arms folded across their chests and a scowl on their face the way they sit in church when anything other than a traditional hymn is sung. But if angels don’t sing, does this mean everyone except the angels will sing the new song? It hardly seems fair to leave the angels out of the celebration. To further complicate the matter, the Hebrew word for “sing” doesn’t always translate to mean music. It can also be translated as “joyfully shouted” or “rejoiced.” We could include praise in that definition. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.” Couldn’t that also refer to singing? I vote yes.
All these arguments about whether or not angels sing are simply too overwhelming for me. So, give me a break. If I want to keep my misguided illusions about angels singing, who am I hurting? By the way, I’ll bet when Mary sang The Magnificat, she sounded just like an angel!