Question: "Do angels sing?"

Answer: It may seem strange to ask if angels sing, because conventional wisdom says, “Of course they do.” It’s common to see pictures of angels holding songbooks or harps or otherwise engaged in music-making. And people often allude to the Christmas story: “The angels sang to the shepherds when Jesus was born, didn’t they?” The problem is that singing is not mentioned in the biblical Christmas story. In fact, there is very little scriptural evidence that the angels sing.

Probably the clearest passage on this issue is Job 38:7, which says that, at the creation of the world, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” In the parallelism of the Hebrew poetry, the “morning stars” are equated with the “angels,” and the singing is paralleled by the joyful shouts. It seems fairly straightforward: the angels sing. However, the Hebrew word translated “sang” doesn’t always denote music. It can also be translated as “joyfully shouted,” “resoundingly cried,” or “rejoiced.” Also, the word translated “angels” in the NIV literally means “sons of God.”

Revelation 5 is another passage that may indicate that the angels sing. Verse 9 speaks of beings that “sang a new song” in heaven. These beings that sing are the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures—possibly angelic beings, but they are not specifically called such. Then in verse 11 “the voice of many angels” is heard. But now the words are “said,” not specifically “sung.” The words of the angelic host in verse 12 are quite similar to the words of the song in verse 9, but the words of the angels are not explicitly called a song. So, there is no conclusive proof in Revelation 5 that angels sing.

What about the Christmas story? Luke 2:13–14 says, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God . . . .’” Note, again, that the words of the angels are “said,” not specifically “sung.” Since singing is 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.

In short, the Bible does not give a definitive answer as to whether the angels sing. God has created humanity with an innate connection to music and singing, especially in regard to worship (Ephesians 5:19). We often 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 a poetic form, argues for the idea that the angels are singing. And it would seem logical that God created the angels with the same propensity for singing as humans have. But we cannot be dogmatic. Whether the angels were singing or speaking in the Bible, they were worshiping and praising God. May we follow their example!