Growing up in an area that is both the South and heart of the Bible Belt, many of our expressions have biblical foundations. Some of my favorites are “Bless your heart”, “Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise” (which I taught my ESL class) and “Glory be!” The meaning of these can vary depending on the conversation, but we’ll not go into that today.
Today’s carol has me reflecting on the word glory, which is often used to express amazement and wonder in our common, southern vernacular. I’m glad that Angels We have Heard on High* reminds me that it’s a word the angels also used quite liberally.
Gloria in excelsis Deo!
Glory to God in the highest! That’s what they sang from the heavens, shocking a group of poor shepherds and making them wonder what was going on. The second verse of the song explains the scene:
Shepherds why this jubilee? Why your joyous strains prolong? What the gladsome tidings be which inspire your heav’nly song?
When someone shouts glory, you jump, you’re moved, you look around to see what’s up. I can’t imagine what the shepherds did. That’s why the rest of the song tells us that the angels had to explain what was making them so excited. “Get to Bethlehem, boys!” (this is my loose translation). “The King is born!”
This song can’t be sung without letting your gloria go on and on, and that’s what it makes me do tonight. I want my glory to ring out like the angels, to go up and down the scales like the song, and to be heard by even the most unsuspecting of peoples. Why? Because the King, our King, my King has been born!
When we sing glory, that glory goes to God. Christ came to reveal God’s glory to us. He made the way for us to find salvation and live in eternal glory. Glory be! His glory shines all around, when Jesus is born in us. What a wonderful reason to sing.
*WORDS: Traditional French Carol; tr. source unknown, 1862, alt. MUSIC: Traditional French Carol; arr. Warren M. Angell, 1907-