When I was young, I had a favorite Christmas Carol: Angels We Have Heard on High. I’m pretty sure I drove my parents and brother insane around Christmas time, as I would sing it nonstop.
Of course, I sang it during other times of the year as well, just because I liked it. I’m sure they just loved me for that!
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During December, you’re likely to hear Christmas carols almost anywhere you go. They’ll be playing on every radio station and at every store. They’re actually a little hard to get away from this time of year!
Since they’re so readily available, why not use them to help your children learn to keep Christ at the center of Christmas this year?
Angels We Have Heard on High
Written in 1862, Angels We Have Heard on High was actually derived from a French Christmas song, Les Anges Dans Nos Campagnes (literally, The Angels in the Countryside).
It is a retelling of the scene from Luke chapter 2 in which the angels announce to the shepherds in the field that the Messiah has been born.
This is something that we tend to think of as a fun part of the story, but often, we don’t really understand the full meaning of it. Some activities may help!
Set the Scene
When the angels came to the shepherds, it was really a special thing. In those days, shepherds were among the lowest class of workers. They lived out in the fields with the animals for days or weeks at a time! They were very brave and hard-working, but they were not the group of people that the birth of a king would be announced to.
Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t do what we expect!
Have your kids close their eyes and imagine the following scene:
It’s late at night, you’re cold, and you can’t be at home with your family. Instead, you are in a field outside the city, standing in the middle of a bunch of sleeping sheep. (I don’t know if you have ever been around a lot of sheep, but they don’t always smell that good!)
It’s your job to protect the sheep, since they can’t do much to protect themselves. These sheep depend on you, and so do your fellow shepherds.
Suddenly, a really bright light bursts through the sky, and an angel – a real angel! – is right in front of you. What do you do? Do you bow down, or run away, or just stand there in shock? The Bible says they were terrified.
We think of angels as gentle people in white robes sitting on a cloud and playing a harp, but the Bible says that they are God’s warriors and messengers. Can you imagine one just appearing in front of you?
The angel tells you not to be afraid, and then tells you that the Savior, the promised Messiah, has just been born in a nearby town. You get to be one of the first people to see Him! You, a shepherd that spends most of your days and nights around animals in a field!
But wait – God’s not finished yet. He’s just getting started! All of a sudden, the sky is filled with angels. Luke 2:13 says that “the angel was joined by a vast host of others – the armies of heaven.” They were there for one purpose: to praise God and give Him glory by announcing that His plan was being fulfilled.
And you get to witness it firsthand!
Add in the Bible Passage
Once your children have the scene set firmly in their minds, read the passage from Luke 2:1-20.
Talk about it with your children.
- Why did God choose to let Jesus be born in such a common place? Shouldn’t a king be born in a palace, surrounded by people to serve him?
- Why do you think the shepherds were the first people who got to see Jesus? Not kings, or noblemen, or people who were highly respected, but shepherds?
I love this passage, because it shows in really amazing ways that Jesus didn’t come to earth to be revered and served. John 1:3 says that everything that was created was done so through Him, so He’s obviously worthy of our worship.
Yet, when he came to earth, He did so as a tiny, fragile baby. He was born into the household of a carpenter in a town that no one respected. (There was even a saying: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”) When he was born, there weren’t parades in the street or announcements to other royalty.
There was something even better. There was an endless stream of angels who announced His birth to the very people He came to serve and to save.
That is amazing!
Extend the Study
There are a lot of fun activities you can choose from to help your children learn about this song. In fact, there are so many that I can’t fit them all in this post! However, you can download the free printable unit and choose from history, geography, craft, music, and even foreign language activities.