Angels from the Realms of Glory

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts (Haggai 2:6-7).

I cannot think of a more majestic song of Christmas than Angels from the Realms of Glory. Not only is it a song of Christmas but the hymn is a great song of worship. Angels from the Realms of Glory paints pictures of the shepherds of Bethlehem and the wise kings from the East but paints also masterpieces of Christ’s redemptive mercy and His soon-coming reign. The song echoes Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear and Romans 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. The hymn triumphantly closes with praises to the God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created (Rev 4:11).

I first heard Angels from the Realms of Glory many years ago. It sewed a spot in my heart but had stayed hidden for a long while. This past November the roots came shining through as I listened to Stephanie Seefeldt sing her unique arrangement to the classic hymn which is on the Cradle & Cross album. James Mont­gom­e­ry wrote and published Angels from the Realms of Glory in 1816. The original music used with the hymn is Re­gent Square, written by Hen­ry T. Smart. An alternate tune used popularly is Iris which is more commonly know in the United States as the tune for Angels We Have Heard on High.

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight over all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim the Messiah’s birth.

Chorus: Come and worship,
Come and worship.
Worship Christ, the newborn King.

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching over 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.

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.

Sinners, wrung with true repentance,
Doomed for guilt to endless pains,
Justice now revokes the sentence,
Mercy calls you, break your chains.

Though an infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down.

All creation, join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising
To the eternal Three in One

In place of the verse “Sinners, wrung with true repentance…” some hymnals use the following verse written in 1855 by Isaac G. Smith.

Lord of Heaven, we adore Thee,
God the Father, God the Son,
God the Spirit, One in glory,
On the same eternal throne

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