Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

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Hark! The herald angels sing:
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on Earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark! The herald angels sing:
Glory to the newborn King!

Christ, by highest Heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.

Hail the Heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of Earth,
Born to give them second birth.

Charles Wesley
Charles Wesley

Charles Wesley wrote this carol in 1738, near the beginning of his 50-year preaching career. It is estimated that he wrote more than 6500 hymns! He always wanted his music to give the message of the Gospel plainly to the masses. This regal-sounding song presents the doctrines of the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the immortality of the soul, and the transformative power available for people who believe in Christ.

the transformative power available for people who believe in Christ. Click To Tweet

No official tune was associated with Wesley’s song until 1855 – more than a century after its writing! A British church organist, Dr. William H. Cummings, thought that a chorus from Felix Mendelssohn’s festive work, Festgesang was most appropriate. This was a tune which Mendelssohn had once said would never be suitable for sacred words, but only for more light-hearted singing. Customs change, and fortunately for us, Mendelssohn was wrong, but he was not alive to hear this use of his triumphant music.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! is now one of our oldest Christmas carols. By 1902, it had been translated into more languages and included in more hymnals than any other Christmas carol.



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