Dr. Ray Pritchard

Author, Speaker, President of Keep Believing Ministries

Angels from the Realms of Glory

“Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified” (Luke 2:9).

In his day, James Montgomery was quite a rabble-rouser.

On one hand, his friends knew him to be a deeply devoted Christian who stood up for what he believed. But because of certain political views, he was considered by some to be extreme and by others to be dangerous. When he was six years old, his parents put him in boarding school while they left to be missionaries in the West Indies. Shuttled from home to home, he never seemed to find his place.

He failed at school.
He failed as a baker’s apprentice.
But he knew how to write poetry.

Eventually he found success as the owner of a newspaper called “The Iris.” Twice he was imprisoned because of his politics, especially his call for the abolition of slavery.

In 1816, when he was 45 years old, he wrote “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” It is considered one of the finest hymns ever composed in English. During his lifetime, Montgomery wrote over 400 hymns. Only Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts surpass him in the number of hymns still sung today. It is sung most often to the tune “Regent Square,” written by the blind composer Henry Smart (who also built some of England’s finest organs).

In successive verses, this carol tells the Christmas story, starting with the angels, then the shepherds, then the wise men (“sages”), and ending with a call to Christians everywhere. “Angels from the Realms of Glory” first appeared in Montgomery’s paper on Christmas Eve 1816.

Here are the four verses found in most hymnals:

Angels from the realms of glory
Wing your flight o’er all the earth
Ye, who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah's birth
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn King

Shepherds in the fields abiding
Watching o’er your flocks by night
God with man is now residing
Yonder shines the Infant light
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn King

Sages leave your contemplations
Brighter visions beam afar
Seek the great Desire of nations
Ye have seen His natal star
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn King

Saints before the altar bending
Watching long in hope and fear
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ the newborn King

James Montgomery had a good grasp of theology. He mentions Jesus’ Old Testament title (“Messiah’s birth), his deity (“God with man is now residing”), his universal appeal (“Desire of nations”), and even his second coming (“Suddenly, the Lord descending”). The refrain calls on everyone to respond in faith (“Come and worship”).

I found a short instrumental version by the Percy Faith Orchestra. I hope you will listen and sing along.

Sovereign Lord, with the angels, we proclaim your greatness. With the shepherds, we seek your face. With the Wise Men, we offer our gifts. With all the saints, we worship as we await your return. Amen.

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

Letter to a Dying Friend

Not long ago I received a note telling me a dear friend was dying. During his long and varied life, he has traveled much, touched many lives, and made a difference for Christ. Now he is in hospice care. Here is an edited version of the letter I wrote to encourage him as he waits to meet the Lord. 

Dear Friend,

It seems like only yesterday that we first met, back in other days, in another world, in another time. It was, come to think of it, in the last century that we met. Speaking of the passage of time, I pondered the fact that recently I celebrated my 63rd birthday. That seems impossible, but there it is. I am older now than you were when we first met.

In God’s kindness we became good friends. You helped me out in so many ways. I remember when we were in a tight spot over a contentious issue. We had some sort of meeting on Sunday night, and you helped me by moderating that meeting. I spoke and took questions, and you flashed your trademark smile and managed to keep everyone happy even in some tense moments.

I remember the lunches we had together as you shared your wisdom with me about how to handle difficult people. Somewhere along the way, you told me that when things got tough and I was about to say something foolish I would regret later (I am gifted in that area!), I should look up to the ceiling and see your smiling face, with your arms raised, palms uplifted, as if to say, “What does it matter?” You will never know until you get to heaven how many times that one simple thing kept me out of trouble.

I mentioned “when you get to heaven.” Here is something I know. You and I both believe in heaven because we have trusted in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, as our Lord and Savior. I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I know you believe that too. Long years ago you put your trust in Jesus and He saved you. He washed all your sins away. He made a place for you in heaven. I want you to know that I have no doubt, none at all, that when the moment comes, you will slip from this life into the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You are a Christian, you have lived as a Christian, you will die as a Christian, and when that moment comes, you will close your eyes on earth and open them in heaven. Jesus said, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” That’s where you are going. Jesus has said it. He promised it, and he cannot lie.

You leave behind a legacy as a godly husband, father, grandfather, friend, confidant, prayer warrior, and spiritual leader. Those of us who know you will never forget you. Even as I wrote those words, I looked up and felt like I could see your smiling face looking down on me.

I don’t believe you are leaving us for any long time. Nor do I believe you are going far away. Hebrews 12 tells us that we have “drawn near” in Jesus to every spiritual reality. You won’t be far away. And the coming of the Lord can’t be far away. I look forward to the day when the trumpet will sound, the archangel will shout, and Jesus himself will return to the earth (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). On that glad day, a great resurrection and a grand reunion will take place.

So, my dear friend, though I do not expect to see you again in this life, I know I will see you again. Jesus has promised it, and He cannot break his word. Rest well. God hold you tight in his loving arms.  One day we will celebrate together in the land where no one ever dies.

C. S. Lewis was fond of remarking that Christians never say goodbye. We say, “See you later,” because it’s true. By God’s grace, we will see you again.

Thank you for your friendship and your love and your prayers stretching back over so many years.

Your friend,


You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

The Blessing

“Everything in our service for the Lord is dependent on His blessing.”

Those are the words of the late Chinese evangelist Watchman Nee in a sermon called “Expecting the Lord’s Blessing.” He goes on to say that blessing is “God working without any cause.” It’s what happens when all you have is five loaves and two fish, and yet you are able to feed 5000 men. He applies the truth this way:

 “Some people should not get a certain kind of result. They should only have a little, but surprisingly they have much.”

How do we receive God’s blessing? My answer is, we must find out what God is blessing and then get involved in that. It’s a big mistake to say, “Lord, here’s what I am doing. Please bless this.” That’s a man-centered approach that never works because it starts with us, not with God. We should instead say, “Lord, show me what you have promised to bless so I can get involved in it.”

God has made it perfectly clear what he plans to bless. In this message, we’ll discover a theme of blessing that flows through the entire Bible. It starts in Genesis 12, continues through the Old Testament, and finds its fullest expression in what we call the Great Commission. God has said, “This is what I will bless. This is my plan, my purpose, my program in the world.” If we want God’s blessing, we must align ourselves with what God has already said he will bless.

For our purposes in this message, I want us to focus on 5 different passages of Scripture. We could look at many more, but these five help us understand God’s plan to bless the nations. This is what Watchman Nee means when he says some have little, but they consistently receive much more from God. If we want that sort of blessing, then we need to know what God has said he will bless.

You can read the rest of the message online

You can reach the author at [email protected]. Click here to sign up for the free email sermon.

  • Editors' Picks

    17 Prayers of Gratitude for the Holiday Season
    17 Prayers of Gratitude for the Holiday Season
  • The First Thanksgiving We Don't Remember
    The First Thanksgiving We Don't Remember
  • Black Friday and the Love of Stuff
    Black Friday and the Love of Stuff