Gloria in Excelsis Deo

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

(Luke 2:13–14, ESV)

Gloria in Excelsis Deo—Glory to God in the highest! We hear this highest praise given at Jesus’s birth, and it is reserved for only one. “Glory to God in the highest” was the praise given by the angels while the shepherds watched their flocks by night. The angel’s greeting and the heavenly host’s praise caused the shepherds to get on their feet and run to see where Jesus was born. Jesus’s birth brought about “highest praise” from Mary in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46–55), from Zechariah in his prophecy (1:68–79), and from Simeon in his prayer (2:29–32).

Everywhere the announcement of Jesus’s birth was heard, high praise followed. The higher one goes the better, like a sledge hammer hitting a bell at a carnival: high, higher, and highest! This reminds me of my grandfather’s phrase, “good, better, best, never let it rest, until the good is the better and the better is the best.” Once a superlative like highest is reached, there is nothing higher. Jesus’s position is above all, according to Philippians 2:9–11: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

“O come let us adore Him, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Let us give Him praise; let us sing summa cum laude, which means “with highest praise.” We read in Psalm 95:6–7: “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.” And in Psalm 115:18: “But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Praise the Lord!”  

Come on, church! Let’s join with the shepherds and get on our feet and go see this thing that has happened. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).