354. Angels from the Realms of Glory

1 Angels from the realms of glory,
wing your flight o'er all the earth;
ye who sang creation's story,
now proclaim Messiah's birth:

Refrain:
come and worship, come and worship,
worship Christ, the newborn King!

2 Shepherds in the fields abiding,
watching o'er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
yonder shines the infant Light: Refrain

3 Sages, leave your contemplations,
brighter visions beam afar;
seek the great Desire of nations;
ye have seen his natal star: Refrain

4 Though an infant now we view him,
he will share his Father's throne,
gather all the nations to him;
every knee shall then bow down: Refrain

5 Saints and angels join in praising
God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
evermore their voices raising
to the eternal Three in One: Refrain

Text Information
First Line: Angels from the realms of glory
Title: Angels from the Realms of Glory
Author: James Montgomery (1816, alt.)
Publication Date: 1987
Meter: 87 87 with refrain
Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12
Topic: Doxologies; King, God/Christ as; Christmas
Language: English
Refrain First Line: Come and worship, come and worship
Tune Information
Name: REGENT SQUARE
Composer: Henry Smart (1867)
Meter: 87 87 with refrain
Key: B♭ Major


Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 1-3 = Luke 2, Matt. 2
st. 4 = Joel 3:2, Phil. 2:10

A writer of many Christian hymns, James Montgomery (PHH 72) composed this Christmas and Epiphany text and published it on Christmas Eve, 1816, in the Sheffield Iris, a newspaper he edited. Montgomery based the text in part on the French carol "Angels We Have Heard on High" (347); it was sung to that tune for over fifty years. Entitling it "Good Tidings of Great Joy to All People," Montgomery republished the text with small alterations in his Christian Psalmist (1825).

Perhaps because he knew the psalms so well, Montgomery expresses a cosmic sense in this text: he reaches from Christ's incarnation to the final great day. The text successively incorporates all creatures–the angels (st. 1), the shepherds (st. 2), the wise men (st. 3), all nations (st. 4), and all people (st. 5)–in the call to “come and worship Christ, the newborn King!”

The text was originally in five stanzas, although many hymnals now delete the fifth stanza. Stanzas 1-3 are from Montgomery's text, which was inspired by the Christmas stories in Luke 2 and Matthew 2. Stanza 4 comes from another Montgomery carol inspired by Philippians 2. Stanza 5 is a doxology (not written by Montgomery) from the Salisbury Hymn Book (1857).

Liturgical Use:
Christmas Day worship service; during the Christmas season and Epiphany (not only for the Christmas story, but also for the hymn's obvious mission focus in stanza 4).

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

Henry T. Smart (PHH 233) composed REGENT SQUARE for the Horatius Bonar (PHH 260) doxology "Glory be to God the Father." The tune was first published in the English Presbyterian Church's Psalms and Hymns for Divine Worship (1867), of which Smart was music editor. Because the text editor of that hymnal, James Hamilton, was minister of the Regent Square Church, the "Presbyterian cathedral" of London, the tune was given this title. At times Montgomery's text is sung to GLORIA (347), but it is usually associated with this tune.

REGENT SQUARE is a splendid tune with lots of lift and some repeated phrases. For variety, try having small groups sing stanzas 1-3, with all on the refrains; stanza 4 sung by all in harmony; and stanza 5 sung in unison, perhaps with an alternative accompaniment.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook


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