Did the Angels Really Sing at Christ’s Birth?

angels in the Christmas story

This post is from Morris Proctor, certified and authorized trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Since the Advent season is upon us, I’m going to devote the next several posts to Christmas themes. To kick it off, let’s talk about what angels do. My favorite Christmas hymn is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” so a good while back I decided to find all the verses in the Bible about angels singing.

Here’s how to find them for yourself.

  • Click the Search icon in the upper left of the program
  • Select Bible as the search type (A)
  • Select a major English Bible such as ESV, NASB, NKJV, KJV, or HCSB to search from the drop down list (B)
  • Select All Passages from the verse-range drop-down list (C)

  • Place this text in the Find box: angel (sing,sang) (D)

Angels in the Bible

  • Choose the panel menu (E)
  • Select Match all word forms (F)
  • Press the Enter key to generate the search results

2

This specific search query is locating all of the verses containing any form of angel AND any form of sing OR sang in the same verse. Did you get some results? Logos probably returned zero hits! (G)

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Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying angels sing or don’t sing, I’m just saying the English words angel and sing do not appear in the same verse in our primary English Bibles. I’ll let you continue on down that road on your own.

That search did, however, raise another question: What actions (verbs) are associated with angels in the Bible?

For that answer try this:

  • Click the Search icon in the upper left of the program
  • Select Clause as the search type (H)
  • Select All Passages from the verse range drop down list (I)
  • Select The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition from the resource to search drop down list (J)
  • Place this text in the Find box: subject:An Angel verb-lemma:ANY (K)
  • Press the Enter key to generate the search which is locating the clauses in the New Testament in which the Biblical Person Angel is the subject and any Greek lemma is the verb

4

 

  • Select Analysis as the view for the results (L)
  • Right-click on one of the column headers in the spreadsheet (M)
  • Select Verb from the menu (you can of course select as many additional options as you like from the menu) (N)

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  • Drag the column header Verb to the white space above the column headers to group the results according to the Verb in the clause (Mac user please hold down the Opt key as you drag the column header Verb) (O)
  • Click the column header Verb to alphabetize the results (P)
  • Right click on one of the verbs in the results area (Q)
  • Select Collapse all (R)

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  • Scroll through the list of verbs in the results area to see all of the actions associated with angels in the New Testament! (S)

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  • Repeat the same search for the Old Testament by changing the Bible to the Lexham Hebrew Bible in the resource to search drop down list.

As you survey the results in both Old and New Testaments notice what verbs are NOT present: sing, sang, sung. Again, I’ll leave further exploration and the interpretation to you!

Hopefully, however, you can see the Clause Search is a great way to quickly discover actions associated with a Biblical Person.

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For more training on searching with Logos, check out the Logos 6 Training Manual Volumes 1 and 2 Bundle.

Comments

  1. Would this suggest there was singing in heaven at the creation, but not since the fall?
    Job 38:4–7 Creation is spoken of using the language of building construction.
    Job 38:7 morning stars … sons of God. The angelic realm, God’s ministering spirits.

    MacArthur, J., Jr. (Ed.). (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed., p. 735). Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

  2. There's a lot of heavenly singing in Revelation. And harp and trumpet playing. Of course, there are no examples of "angel" and "sing" in the same sentence, but… :-)

  3. I love the training. Thanks Morris! Sure, next you'll be telling us that there were no wise men at the stable. Oh, wait. :)

  4. I love all the articles and commentaries. I also like how Morris teaches how to search and leaves the conclusion up to the reader.
    My opinion is if the Bible says Angels sing then we know they sing. If the Bible says Angels don’t sing then we know they don’t sing. If the Bible doesn’t tell us either way then we don’t know for sure. I do believe we can use Spirit lead deductive reasoning to come to Spirit Lead logical conclusions.

  5. When I read your article, I thought of the English phrase, “to sing one’s praises.” When that phrase is used normally the speaker refers to someone enthusiastically speaking about a person. I noted that the two verbs associated with angels are speak and shout. I am assuming that anyone in God’s presence would speak, shout, and even sing His praises.

  6. A search for "singing" shows the NRSV translating Rev. 7:11-12 as angels singing.

  7. but "they" is ambiguous.