Of course they do, right? From common angel depictions, the answer may seem obvious. We often see pictures of angels holding songbooks or harps or otherwise engaged in music-making. Most people imagine lilting soprano voices reaching high notes with a crystal clear timbre, booming bass voices singing low notes that resonate deep in your soul. They hear choirs of many voices in all ranges harmonizing together, starting off softly and gradually getting louder in a thrilling crescendo of sound that pulsates in wild rhythms as angelic singers express their joy through music. When this question comes up, people often allude to the Christmas story – the angels sang to the shepherds when Jesus was born, didn’t they? l The only problem here is that singing is not mentioned in the biblical Christmas story. The truth is there is very little scriptural evidence that angels sing.
Let’s take a closer look at Job 38:7, which is likely the clearest passage on this issue. The Bible says that, at the creation of the world, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” Here, the “morning stars” are equated with the angels,” and the singing is paralleled by the joyful shouts. This seems pretty straightforward, right? Angels have to sing. However, the Hebrew word translated “sang” doesn’t always denote music. It can also be translated as “joyfully shouted,” “rejoiced,” or “resoundingly cried.” Also, the word translated “angels” in the NIV literally means “sons of God.”
Another passage we can turn to is Revelation 5, which many believe also indicates that angels sing. Verse 9 speaks of beings that “sang a new song” in heaven. The beings that sing are the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures – possibly angelic beings, but they are not specifically called such. Then, when you look at verse 11, “the voice of many angels” is heard. However, here, the words are “said,” not specifically “sung.” The words of the angelic host in verse 12, while similar to the words of the song in verse 9, are not explicitly called a song. We can conclude from this that there is no conclusive proof in Revelation 5 that angels sing.
Now what about the Christmas story? The Bible tells us, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God…” (Luke 2:13-14). Remember that here, the words of the angels are “said,” not specifically “sung.” Since singing is in fact a type of speaking, the passage does not rule out the idea that the angels sang – but neither does the passage put the question to rest.
There are many that argue that angels do in fact sing, and they turn to situations outside of Scripture. Many people who are preparing to die have reported hearing the sound of angels singing, which comforts them during the dying process. Many believe that angels help make the transition from earthly to the heavenly life and singing might be one of the ways that angels help dying believers pass into eternity with a sense of peace.
Ultimately, Scripture doesn’t give a definitive answer as to whether the angels sing. God created us with an innate connection to music and singing, especially in regard to worship. What a blessing that we are able to use singing when we praise the Lord. The fact that the words of the angels in Revelation 5 and Luke 2 are words of praise, expressed in poetic form, does argue for the idea that the angels are singing. It would also make sense that God created angels with the same propensity for singing humans have. While the previous passages do not require angels sing, they suggest that the context of these passages should also be taken into consideration. It can appear more likely than not that singing is in view. Just as humans worship God in both spoken words and song; it is likely that angels do the same.
Psalm 150 offers a comprehensive call to worship for all creatures. Verse 6, the final verse urges, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” If this is true on earth in our worship of God, how much more is it true for those who live in God’s presence in heaven?
Psalm 148:2 states, “Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His hosts!” Psalm 103:20 adds, “Bless the LORD, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His word, obeying the voice of His word!”
Whether the angels were singing or speaking in the Bible should not be the focus. What we do know is that they were worshiping and praising God. Angels were present at the creation of the world, the birth of Christ, and will be present until the end of time. Right now, angels are praising God as the Psalms indicate. It’s important that we follow their example of praising God in worship.