The shortest answer is: Yes they can; we believe they've done so in the past, and will highly likely do so in the future. But to answer this question fully, we must also ask: When? So, we've searched the Scriptures for any passages which will allow us to be certain that angels can indeed sing.
Although there are two references where we might logically conclude that angels did and will indeed sing in the future (see below), surprisingly for
some of you, no where in Scripture will you find the statement that one or more angels ever sang at the times and/or places you may think they did!
So Biblically, it's a fairly safe conclusion to say the "morning stars" in this verse refers to angels, and they did sing when God created the heavens and the earth. We can also conclude that in Revelation where "a new song" is mentioned, that angels join in the singing (see Rev 5:9; 14:3).
HOWEVER, in the Nativity section of the Gospel of Luke (2:13), we find:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, (AV)
Even here in the 'King James' version, the angels did *not* sing, but rather *said* ("saying") "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:14) One cannot assume, just because we as humans often "praise God" in song that these angels must have done the same! So, technically, we cannot say for sure in this passage that the angels actually sang at that time. The phrase, 'Praising God,' does not necessarily imply singing: In Luke 23:47, our same author wrote:
"Now when the centurion saw what had happened, he began praising God, saying, 'Certainly this man was innocent.' "
Does anyone really believe he broke out into a song when he began "praising God" in order to state that Jesus was innocent?
Based on the passages above, and a few others where angels are only mentioned as 'saying'; not singing, something to or about God, a well-known Bible teacher concluded that it appears angels never sung after sin entered the world, nor will they sing again until the Lamb of God rules over the earth (as found in the book of Revelation). This may be true, but I don't think the evidence is completely conclusive to convince everyone. Considering the concept of Hebrew parallelisms, such as Job 38:7, we tried to find other passages in Scripture where "singing" and "saying" might be used synonymously. But the closest one we could find was Jeremiah 31:7 where we read:
"For thus says the LORD, 'Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, 'O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.' "
They were commanded to "sing," "shout," "proclaim," "praise" and "say" something. But this isn't really a 'parallelism' as much as the fact they were to praise God in every 'verbal way' humans possibly can. [Note: Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 are similar!]
On the other hand, Revelation 5:9 is itself a 'parallelism' similar to that in Job:
"And they _sang_ a new song, _saying_, ...."
Therefore, although we can not be completely dogmatic about this question (maybe it's possible the shepherds did hear the angels sing), it's certainly possible that the angels decided they will not actually sing praises to God until we can all join together in a blessed chorus of "Worthy is the Lamb" (cf. Re 5:8,9). Amen!
רַנֵּ֥ן (rānan) cry out, shout for joy.
rānan is a primary Hebrew root. Both the root and its verbal noun appear over fifty times in the OT. The most frequent occurrences are in Isaiah
and the Psalms; generally in poetic passages.
First Published: September 3, 2011. (2011.09.03)