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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XXX THE SONG OF THE ANGELS

Luke ii.8-14.

We are beginning to feel already the sweep of life that hurries us all along to the keeping of the Christmas season; our music already takes on a Christmas tone, and we begin to hear the song of the angels, which seemed to the Evangelists to give the human birth of Jesus a fit accompaniment in the harmonies of heaven.

This song of the angels, as we have been used to reading it, was a threefold message; of glory to God, peace on earth, and good-will among men; but the better scholarship of the Revised Version now reads in the verse a twofold message. First, there is glory to God, and then there is peace on earth to the men of good-will. Those, that is to say, who have the good-will in themselves are the ones who will find peace on earth. Their unselfishness brings them their personal happiness. They give themselves in good-will, and so they obtain peace. That is the true spirit {77} of the Christmas season. It is the good-will which brings the peace. Over and over again in these months of feverish scrambling for personal gain, men have sought for peace and have not found it; and now, when they turn to this generous good-will, the peace they sought comes of itself. Many a man in the past year has had his misunderstandings or grudges or quarrels rob him of his own peace; but now, as he puts away these differences as unfit for the season of good-will, the peace arrives. That is the paradox of Christianity. He who seeks peace does not find it. He who gives peace finds it returning to him again. He who hoards his life loses it, and he who speeds it finds it: --

|Not what we give, but what we share,
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, --
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.|

That is the sweet and lingering echo of the angels' song.

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