Christmas, Let’s Sing!

Hark 1

It is one of my favorite Christmas hymns. A carol of joy, Hark the Herrald Angels Sing, was not always in the form or sound that we enjoy it today.  

The youtube version below has a driving bass beat and an additional chorus inserted. It comes from Paul Baloche’s Christmas album and it captures well the joy of the announcement of the “new-born King”. Every line of this hymn is packed with theology, truth in lyrical form summing up whole blocks of prophecy, fulfillment, and joy. Originally, Wesley wanted a slower tempo and a reverent tone. Later Felix Medelsshon melody was attached to the hymn giving its more triumphant and joyful texture.

“In 1840—a hundred years after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems—Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg‘s invention of movable type printing, and it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that propels the carol known today.”  (wikipedia)

Here’s the lyrics with its familiar opening line. My favorite couplet is in the third chorus.

“Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth.”

How rich those words first sounded to me when I heard them with fresh insight after my conversion. The year was 1974 and 11 months before in January I had placed my faith in Christ. I was born-again. The second birth and Christ took over my life. And my life has been immeasurably different and better than it would have been but all the joys of the last 48 years pale in comparison to the joys yet promised to all those who believe in Him.

Jesus came once to live and die and rise. He keeps all His promises. And He is coming again as ruling King and Savior of all who call on His name. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that the new-born king of Christmas is Lord of heaven and earth. That is something for which even angels herald and sing about. So should we. 

Trivia:  Hark the Herald Angels Sing is the song used to celebrate the miracle of the saving of the Building and Loan in the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new-born King! 
Peace on earth, and mercy mild, 
God and sinners reconciled.” 
Joyful, all ye nations, rise, 
Join the triumph of the skies; 
With th’ angelic host proclaim, 
“Christ is born in Bethlehem.” 
Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new-born King!
Christ, by highest heaven adored: 
Christ, the everlasting Lord; 
Late in time behold him come, 
Offspring of the favoured one. 
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; 
Hail, th’incarnate Deity: 
Pleased, as man, with men to dwell, 
Jesus, our Emmanuel! 
Hark! the herald angels sing, 
“Glory to the new-born King!
Hail! the heaven-born 
Prince of peace! 
Hail! the Son of Righteousness! 
Light and life to all he brings, 
Risen with healing in his wings 
Mild he lays his glory by, 
Born that man no more may die: 
Born to raise the son of earth, 
Born to give them second birth. 
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King !”

by Charles Wesley

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