The third part of the tableau is the angels proclaiming the birth of Christ to the shepherds. The song is Hodie, Christus Natus Est by Healey Willan.

The title here means, “Today, Christ is Born.” The text goes on to say, roughly:

The Saviour has appeared on earth
The choirs of angels sing
Archangels together rejoice
The righteous rejoice together saying
Gloria to God in the Highest, Alleluia

This one just rocks, I think. It’s hard for me to sing this song and not imagine in my mind the scene of shepherds shocked nearly to death at the sight of heaven itself tearing open the night sky for the singular purpose of celebrating the beginning of a dramatic change in the way humanity can approach God.

In this event is part of the answer to the great mystery. The birth of God is not proclaimed to the elite or the rich, but to simple and poor people also surrounded by animals in the dark and cold of night. People who may spend more time contemplating simpler things at a time when others sleep than the religious significance of this or that. Night, death, and the stars.

If the mystery is why Jesus is born among animals in a manger, then part of the answer lies in who is first told, or who is not told first about the birth. Throughout the gospels, the poor have the more positive response to Jesus and the rich only rarely, if ever. He came for all humanity, but the poor, in this case shepherds, were the ones most receptive to His coming.