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Martin Luther on the Angels Song………….

Finally we must also treat of the angels’ song, which we use daily in our service: Gloria in excelsis Deo. There are three things to be considered in this song, the glory to God, the peace to the earth, and the good will to mankind. The good will might be understood as the divine good will God has toward men through Christ. But we will admit it to mean the good will which is granted unto men through this birth.

The first is the glory to God. Thus we should also begin, so that in all things the praise and glory be given to God as the one who does, gives and possesses all things, that no one ascribe any thing to himself or claim any merit for himself. For the glory belongs to no one but to God alone, it does not permit of being made common by being shared by any person.

Adam stole the glory through the evil spirit and appropriated it to himself, so that all men with him have come into disgrace, which evil is so deeply rooted in all mankind that there is no vice in them as great as vanity. Every one is well pleased with himself and no one wants to be nothing, and they desire nothing, which spirit of vanity is the cause of all distress, strife and war upon earth.

Christ has again brought back the glory to God, in that he has taught us how all we have or can do is nothing but wrath and displeasure before God, so that we may not be boastful and self-satisfied, but rather be filled with fear and shame, so that in this manner our glory and self-satisfaction may be crushed, and we be glad to be rid of it, in order that we may be found and preserved in Christ.

The second is the peace on earth. For just as strife must exist where God’s glory is not found, as Solomon says, Prov. 13, 10, “By pride cometh only contention;” so also, where God’s glory is there must be peace. Why should they quarrel when they know that nothing is their own, but that all they are, have and can desire is from God; they leave everything in his hands and are content that they have such a gracious God. He knows that all he may have, is nothing before God, he does not seek his own honor, but thinks of him who is something before God, namely Christ.

From this it follows that where there are true Christians, there is no strife, contention, or discord; as Isaiah says in 2, 4, “And they shall beat their swords into plowshears, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Therefore our Lord Christ is called a king of peace, and is represented by king Solomon, whose name implies, rich in peace, that inwardly he may give us peace in our conscience toward God through faith; and outwardly, that we may exercise love to our fellow men, so that through him there may be everywhere peace on earth.

The third is good will toward men. By good will is not meant the will that does good works, but the good will and peace of heart, which is equally submissive in every thing that may betide, be it good or evil. The angels knew very well that the peace, of which they sang, does not extend farther than to the Christians who truly believe, such have certainly peace among themselves. But the world and the devil have no reproof, they do not permit them to have peace but persecute them to death; as Christ says, John 16, 33, “In me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation.”

Hence it was not enough for the angels to sing peace on earth, they added to it the good will toward men, that they take pleasure in all that God does, regard all God’s dealing with them as wise and good, and praise and thank him for it. They do not murmur, but willingly submit to God’s will. Moreover since they know that God, whom they have received by faith in Christ as a gracious Father, can do all things, they exult and rejoice even under persecution as St. Paul says, Rom 5, 3, “We also rejoice in our tribulations.” They regard all that happens to them as for the best, out of the abundant satisfaction they have in Christ.