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The Song Of The Heavenly Host
The story of the Song of the Heavenly Host belongs exclusively to the
Luke narrator, and, in substance, is as follows:
At the time of the birth of Christ Jesus, there were shepherds abiding
in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And the angel of
the Lord appeared among them, and the glory of the Lord shone round
about them, and the angel said: "I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day in the city
of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host,
praising God in song, saying: "Glory to God in the highest; and on earth
peace, good will towards men." After this the angels went into
It is recorded in the Vishnu Purana[147:2] that while the virgin
Devaki bore Crishna, "the protector of the world," in her womb, she
was eulogized by the gods, and on the day of Crishna's birth, "the
quarters of the horizon were irradiate with joy, as if moonlight was
diffused over the whole earth." "The spirits and the nymphs of heaven
danced and sang," and, "at midnight,[147:3] when the support of all
was born, the clouds emitted low pleasing sounds, and poured down rain
Similar demonstrations of celestial delight were not wanting at the
birth of Buddha. All beings everywhere were full of joy. Music was to
be heard all over the land, and, as in the case of Crishna, there fell
from the skies a gentle shower of flowers and perfumes. Caressing
breezes blew, and a marvellous light was produced.[147:5]
The Fo-pen-hing relates that:
"The attending spirits, who surrounded the Virgin Maya and the
infant Saviour, singing praises of 'the Blessed One,' said:
'All joy be to you, Queen Maya, rejoice and be glad, for the
child you have borne is holy.' Then the Rishis and Devas who
dwelt on earth exclaimed with great joy: 'This day Buddha is
born for the good of men, to dispel the darkness of their
ignorance.' Then the four heavenly kings took up the strain
and said: 'Now because Bodhisatwa is born, to give joy and
bring peace to the world, therefore is there this brightness.'
Then the gods of the thirty-three heavens took up the burden
of the strain, and the Yama Devas and the Tusita Devas, and so
forth, through all the heavens of the Kama, Rupa, and Arupa
worlds, even up to the Akanishta heavens, all the Devas joined
in this song, and said: 'To-day Bodhisatwa is born on earth,
to give joy and peace to men and Devas, to shed light in the
dark places, and to give sight to the blind."[148:1]
Even the sober philosopher Confucius did not enter the world, if we
may believe Chinese tradition, without premonitory symptoms of his
Sir John Francis Davis, speaking of Confucius, says:
"Various prodigies, as in other instances, were the
forerunners of the birth of this extraordinary person. On the
eve of his appearance upon earth, celestial music sounded in
the ears of his mother; and when he was born, this inscription
appeared on his breast: 'The maker of a rule for setting the
In the case of Osiris, the Egyptian Saviour, at his birth, a voice was
heard proclaiming that: "The Ruler of all the Earth is born."[148:4]
In Plutarch's "Isis" occurs the following:
"At the birth of Osiris, there was heard a voice that the Lord
of all the Earth was coming in being; and some say that a
woman named Pamgle, as she was going to carry water to the
temple of Ammon, in the city of Thebes, heard that voice,
which commanded her to proclaim it with a loud voice, that the
great beneficent god Osiris was born."[148:5]
Wonderful demonstrations of delight also attended the birth of the
heavenly-born Apollonius. According to Flavius Philostratus, who wrote
the life of this remarkable man, a flock of swans surrounded his mother,
and clapping their wings, as is their custom, they sang in unison, while
the air was fanned by gentle breezes.
When the god Apollo was born of the virgin Latona in the Island of
Delos, there was joy among the undying gods in Olympus, and the Earth
laughed beneath the smile of Heaven.[148:6]
At the time of the birth of "Hercules the Saviour," his father Zeus,
the god of gods, spake from heaven and said:
"This day shall a child be born of the race of Perseus, who
shall be the mightiest of the sons of men."[149:1]
When AEsculapius was a helpless infant, and when he was about to be put
to death, a voice from the god Apollo was heard, saying:
"Slay not the child with the mother; he is born to do great
things; but bear him to the wise centaur Cheiron, and bid him
train the boy in all his wisdom and teach him to do brave
deeds, that men may praise his name in the generations that
shall be hereafter."[149:2]
As we stated above, the story of the Song of the Heavenly Host belongs
exclusively to the Luke narrator; none of the other writers of the
synoptic Gospels know anything about it, which, if it really happened,
seems very strange.
If the reader will turn to the apocryphal Gospel called
"Protevangelion" (chapter xiii.), he will there see one of the reasons
why it was thought best to leave this Gospel out of the canon of the New
Testament. It relates the "Miracles at Mary's labor," similar to the
Luke narrator, but in a still more wonderful form. It is probably from
this apocryphal Gospel that the Luke narrator copied.
[147:1] Luke, ii. 8-15.
[147:2] Translated from the original Sanscrit by H. H. Wilson, M. D., F.
[147:3] All the virgin-born Saviours are born at midnight or early
[147:4] Vishnu Purana, book v. ch. iii. p. 502.
[147:5] See Amberly's Analysis, p. 226. Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 45, 46,
47, and Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 35.
[148:1] See Beal: Hist. Buddha, pp. 43, 55, 56, and Bunsen's
Angel-Messiah, p. 35.
[148:2] See Amberly: Analysis of Religious Belief, p. 84.
[148:3] Davis: History of China, vol. ii. p. 48. See also Thornton:
Hist. China, i. 152.
[148:4] See Prichard's Egyptian Mythology, p. 56, and Kenrick's Egypt,
vol. i. p. 408.
[148:5] Bonwick: Egyptian Belief, p. 424, and Kenrick's Egypt, vol. i.
[148:6] See Tales of Ancient Greece, p. 4.
[149:1] See Tales of Ancient Greece, p. 55.
[149:2] Ibid. p. 45.
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