And suddenly there was with the angel
a multitude of the heavenly host
praising God, and saying,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.
When I heard this song this morning I knew it had to be my carol for the day. So what if it's the same tune to my first carol of the day? The plaintive desirous cello, the heartbeat piano, the yearning voices that begin:
Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation's story,
Now proclaim Messiah's birth.
make this a new song.
The reverent lullaby of the first
that breaks wider and greater, sweeping into a grander and more glorious
Gloria in excelsis deo!
Until the voices and the cello glide and soar in
as if they really were being carried on wings, had really witnessed the first glimmering burst of creation and now, the miraculous new star. When these earthly angels' voices are joined by a host singing,
Saints before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear,
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear:
I want to sing, too, until all sing together, as all should sing:
Though an infant now we view Him
He shall fill His Father's throne.
Gather all the nations to him.
Every knee shall then bow down.
I love the emotion: the joy, reverence and love on the faces of these talented people who gathered on that dark hillside to commemorate another dark hillside long ago and faraway, but also and everlastingly, here and now. I love the reminder to share and remember the real gift of Christmas:
Once at Easter time when I was in a tiny cathedral, France's tiniest, on its furthest eastern border, a doll-size cathedral small as a simple stable, I saw in a niche near the altar, a child's paper doll of Jesus rising from the tomb, hand-crayoned -- not always within the lines. And next to it a robin's eggshell broken open. I think of that eggshell always now whenever I sing
in excelsis deo!
remembering the way I misheard it as a child. I do not think my childhood's mishearing was entirely mistaken. Miraculous is miraculous. It is the Easter promise of renewed life hatching from its mortal shell that gives wings to our Christmas joy.
I suppose it would have been too long a video for all the verses of James Montgomery's poem to be sung, but all the verses deserve to be given voice. So let this song still be sung and sung again, a new song every time you or I or anyone sings it:
Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light!
Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.
I will rise and come singing, because I have seen it shining, too.