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Q: #600. What verses in the Bible say that angels sing?

     A: Many people are surprised to learn that there are no “clear” verses in the Bible that say angels sing. Verses which many use to support this belief are based upon bad translation, where the word “sing” is used when the original Greek or Hebrew words said “spoke” or “said.”

     For example, we all know the Christmas song “Hark, The Herald, Angels Sing,” right? This song is based upon Luke 2:13-14, where an “angel of the Lord” appeared to “shepherds living out in the fields” to announce the birth of Jesus. Then, “suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and SAYING: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

     Note the word “saying,” not “singing.” The Greek word for “saying” is “lego.” Strong’s Concordance says this: “Lego focuses on the words that are uttered, the thought of the mind which is correlative to the spoken word as their necessary condition…” “Lego” is translated as “say” 1184 times in the New Testament, and as “speak” 61 times. On the other hand, three Greek words are used for “sing / singing” in the New Testament: “ado” (Eph 5:19)(Col 3:16)(Rev 5:9, 14:3, 15:3), “humneo” (Mt 26:30)(Mk 14:26)(Eph 5:19)(Col 3:16), and “psallo” (Rom 15:9)(Eph 5:19)(1 Cor 14:15)(Jas 5:13).

     In all of these verses, those singing are “men” (“humans”), not angels. For example, in (Eph 5:19) and (Col 3:16), Paul says the Ephesians and Colossians should be “singing (Gr: “ado“) and making melody (Gr: “psallo“) in your heart to the Lord.” In (Rev 14:3), the 144,000 “sung (“ado“) a new song before the throne.” In (Mt 26:30)(Mk 14:26), the disciples and Jesus “had sung a hymn (Gr: “humneo“).” In (Acts 16:25), “Paul and Silas were singing (“humneo“) hymns to God.”

     Some believe that in (Rev 5:8-9), “the four living creatures (“beasts”)” (likely angels) are shown with the “twenty-four elders” to “have a harp,” and be “singing a new song.” However, I think the “Barnes Commentary” explains this well. 

“Having every one of them harps – That is, as the construction, and the propriety of the case would seem to demand, the elders had each of them harps. The whole prostrated themselves with profound reverence; the elders had harps and censers, and broke out into a song of praise for redemption. This construction is demanded, because:

(a) the Greek word – echontes – more properly agrees with the word “elders” – presbuteroi – and not with the word “beasts” – zoa;

(b) there is an incongruity in the representation that the living creatures, in the form of a lion, a calf, an eagle, should have harps and censers; and,

(c) the song of praise that is sung Revelation 5:9 is one that properly applies to the elders as the representatives of the church, and not to the living creatures – “Thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

     I think that “(c)” is key, so let’s focus a little more on that. Let me share a quote from a J. Vernon McGee study entitled, “Why Angels Do Not Sing.” 

     “Now we find also that the angels apparently manifest nothing like joy. Here’s what I mean. You remember Dr. Luke gives us the parable in which he says, “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10). As far as the angels are concerned, they seem to express no emotion at all. God the Father is the one who is expressing joy because one sinner has repented and turned to Him. The angels seem incapable of expressing emotion.

     Why does that seem to be true from the Word of God? I’ll tell you why. The angels have never been redeemed. They do not know what it is to sing for the very simple reason that they were never lost sinners and were never redeemed. It is to the redeemed that God has given a song.”

     This is perhaps most clearly shown in (Rev 14:2-3) in regards to the 144,000, “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: (3) And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were REDEEMED from the earth.”

     It is also worth noting that in the Psalms (Heb: “mizmowr“), which are all “songs,” the author “sings” about God’s “redemption” a number of times: (Ps 19:14)(Ps 31:5)(Ps 71:23)(Ps 74:2)(Ps 77:15)(Ps 78:35)(Ps 103:4)(Ps 106:10)(Ps 107:2)(Ps 111:9)(Ps 130:7)(Ps 136:24).

     However, while I agree with McGee on this, I believe it has a wider application. Focusing on the Old Testament, over and over, we see God’s people “singing” in response to what God has done for them. Not only in regards to “redemption,” but also in response to Him “delivering” them, “protecting” them, or “providing” for them.” For example:

In (Ex 15:1-18) and (Ex 15:20-21), the Israelites “sang” after God “saved” (Ex 14:30) them from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea. (They sing of God’s “redemption” in verse 13.)

In (Judg 5:1-31), Deborah and Barak “sang” after God “subdued their oppressor, Jabin the king of Israel.”

In (2 Sam Ch. 22), David sang a “song on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul.” (Also see: Ps Ch. 18)

In (2 Chr 20:21-22), a choir appointed by King Jehoshaphat began to “praise” and “sing to the Lord” about His deliverance from their enemies before the battle had even begun.

David wrote a Psalm (Ps Ch. 7) that is entitled “Prayer and Praise for Deliverance from Enemies.”

In (Hab 3:18), Habbakkuk sings, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

     And, in the New Testament:

In (Rev 15:2-4), those who “have the victory over the beast (through Jesus)… sing the song of Moses (see: Deut 32:1-43)… and the song of the Lamb.”

(James 5:13) says, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.”

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     Keeping this in mind, could it be that “angels” don’t sing because God does not “redeem, deliver, protect, or provide” for them?? That “singing” to the Lord is an “emotional” response from people to the Lord for what He has done, and angels have never experienced this (nor do they have “emotion”). (1 Pet 1:12) speaks of this, when it says in regards to redemption that “the angels desire to look into” it.

     Having said this, the Bible does clearly show angels “praising” the Lord. But, HOW do they praise Him? I think it is worth noting that the word “angel” comes from the Hebrew word “malak,” or Greek “aggelos.” Both mean “messenger.” Virtually every time we see angels speaking in the Bible, they are delivering some type of “message” from God. I believe this is also what angels are also doing when they “praise” God. They are “delivering” a “message” from God as to who, and what He is. Here are a few examples:

(Isa 6:2-4) “Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. (3) And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!” (4) And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.”

(Rev 4:8)(NKJV) “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying (“lego“): “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!””

(Rev 7:11-12)(NKJV) “All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying (“lego“): “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

     This is totally speculation on my part, but perhaps the angels might be “praising God” in a way that is similar to “chanting” (i.e. like monks sometimes do). “Chanting” has been defined as: “a heightened form of speaking,” “repetitive and rhythmic speaking,” “to recite something in a monotonous repetitive tone,” “a word, or group of words, that is repeated over and over.”

     OK! Having said all of this, I need to share one possible proof that angels “might” indeed sing! This is found in (Job 38:7), which says: “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?”

     The question here is, who are the “morning stars” in this verse? First, it is interesting to note that in (Rev 22:16) and (Rev 2:28), Jesus is called the “morning star.” Second, it is interesting to note that “Lucifer” (who most believe was the angelic name of Satan before his fall – see: Isa 14:12-17) in Hebrew is “heylel,” which means “morning star.” SO…. is it possible that the “morning stars” who were “singing” at the foundation of the world were Jesus, and the archangel Lucifer?

     It should also be noted that in (Ezek 28:11-17), which most believe is a description of Satan before his fall, it says that “tabrets and pipes were prepared in him” (or a part of his body – Ezek 28:13). I personally believe that God created Lucifer to be the chief worship angel in Heaven, and that he, along with Michael and Gabriel were created as “archangels,” or leaders of the other angels. In (Rev 12:3-4,9), it says that when Satan / Lucifer fell, one-third of the angels fell with him (possibly the third that he led?).

***Note: On the other side, McGee (and others) say this of the “morning stars” in (Job 38:7): “And we’re told here that the “morning stars sang together.” I’m of the opinion that Job was talking about this physical universe. I cannot prove it but I believe that this physical universe that we are living in, with its millions and literally billions of planets, is making music for God today.” Science today seems to back up McGee, as scientists have come to find that stars do indeed (in a way) “make music” (put the words “do stars sing” or “asteroseismology” in an online search). (Also see: Ps 148:3-4.8-9).

     So, in closing, do angels sing? The Bible is not clear on this, so we cannot definitively say one way or the other. However, the mystery will one day be resolved when we arrive in Heaven, and hear for ourselves. What a day that will be!!

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