The Night I Heard the Angels Sing
It was Christmas Eve, but unlike any I had ever experienced. For the first time in my life, my mother was not there to share Christmas, for she had gone on to heaven just a month before. The pain, sorrow and loneliness were more than I could bear; the mourning went deeper than I thought was possible for a person to experience.
The family was gathered for our usual Christmas Eve dinner, gift exchange, and then the cold winter’s walk around the corner to attend midnight Mass. I had been praying for some time for the Lord to show me what adoration looked like. The words to the Christmas carol, “Oh come, let us adore Him,” had been running through my mind and I always got stuck on ‘adore’. We don’t hear those words often enough and I felt I could draw some sort of comfort from the meaning if I could just see what adoration looked like.
During communion time, my post as one of the Eucharistic Ministers was at the front of the church, to the side. As the people began to line up in front of me to receive the communion wafer, I saw something unexpected out of the corner of my eye. Holding up the host to the person in front of me, I could see beyond them towards the altar. Kneeling on the steps beneath the cross was a youthful looking adult dressed in a long white robe. At once I realized it was a vision meant only for me. The angelic face was visible from the side only, because the head was bowed and arms were crossed over the chest. The left hand was placed on the heart and the right hand lay across it. The posture was what one would see in Nativity scenes, of angels and shepherds worshipping at the cradle while Baby Jesus slept.
The vision lasted only seconds, for I kept glancing while people came and went. Many years later, however, I can still recall the scene as if it just happened. The breadth and depth and expanse of love filled the angelic being’s spirit so intensely that it infused within my own spirit as well. I had not only caught the vision of what adoration looked like, but the actual feeling that accompanied such moments of complete loving surrender.
Much later that Christmas Eve, as I slept, I was awakened by the faint sound of singing. I lay still, half awake, wondering which direction the music was coming from, since it drew nearer with each second. Instantly, my question was answered, for the sound was completely in my left ear. If I turned my head slightly, it disappeared. I dared not move, afraid to miss a note of what sounded like thousands and thousands of choruses, singing in the round. Wave upon wave came rolling into my hearing as I heard the most beautiful singing I had ever experienced in my life.
“Oh Come, Let Us Adore Him,” they harmonized in notes never before heard, that don’t exist on earth. I didn’t realize my prayer had been answered, I heard the phrase reverberate through the heavens down into my bedroom where I listened with every fiber, every breath, every pounding of my heart. “How can this be?” I wondered. “Am I really hearing angels singing in heaven?” Suddenly, a child’s clear voice sang boldly, perfectly, right into my ear, seemingly standing next to my bed.
“Christ Is Born Today!” the voice rang out. I knew the child had been waiting for all of eternity just to sing this phrase on this night, a perfect recital for the King. Then the vision appeared, I was unprepared for what I saw. My mother. I knew she was there, watching the choirs singing, watching the child’s rehearsed recital, for I saw her face. She had the biggest smile I had ever seen in my life, tears welled up in her eyes and rolled around the rims as she watched. There was such joy, such ecstasy on her face, I knew she was enveloped in the tenderest love she had ever experienced, and my heart nearly burst seeing such happiness pour over her.
The vision faded as I heard the choir once more, singing “Amen!” So many people, uncountable heavenly hosts, saints that were in heaven, all creation joining in the final DECLARATION of the UNIVERSE – an AMEN to what God had given to us, His Son. Later, I was to think of our earthly Amen’s, meaningless absurdities compared to the full value of what that Amen contained. “So Be It! Thus it is and shall always be.” Angelic “Amen’s” crashing through a time barrier, bringing everything to a universal halt, bearing witness to The Birth. So far above and beyond anything we could ever begin to understand. Even now, many years later, that Amen holds me captive and I shall never forget it. When we sing, and come to the Amen at the end, the ‘period’, I bow.
The singing grew fainter, and the expanse between heaven and earth became distant until I could hear no more. There, on Christmas Eve, as I lay perfectly still in my bed, I realized I had been visited by a Heavenly Host to teach me what true adoration is, and show me what my mother was experiencing in heaven. The glory and joy of giving honor and praise to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. How could I ever mourn for my mother again after being there with her as she experienced more joy than she had ever known in her life?
* * *
A month later, on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, I was reading a book when thoughts invaded my quiet, returning to the events of that special night. I reflected about the child that sang for us, my mother and me, wondering if it were a girl or boy. The voice sounded like that of a three-year old, but who can know age in heaven? As the thoughts evolved, the strangest thing happened. I remembered when I was eight years old in 1950, we had moved from California to Alaska, arriving there on Christmas Eve, oddly enough. My mother had to fly back to California several months later for an ‘event’. It was an operation to terminate a tubal pregnancy.
It came to me like a bolt of lightning. The child that sang for us was my mother’s baby! That was the source of the joy I saw on her face. God allowed me to be present in that divine moment, to experience the song her child had been preparing to sing for its mother at their first meeting. What wonderful love must have filled her heart, as it did mine, the night I heard the angels sing.
*JoCarroll is a friend of ours and gave me permission to share this, with our prayers that it will especially minister to you whose little ones are right now beholding the face of their Father in heaven.