Sunday, December 03, 2023

Christmas Carols - Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Part 1)

“Hark the herald angels sing” is a Christmas Carol that first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems  written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley founder of the Methodist church, in 1739. A sombre man, he requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus “Hark the herald angels sing” was sung to a different tune initially with Wesley's original opening couplet as "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings 1

Over a hundred years later Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed a cantata in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s music to fit the lyrics of “Hark the herald angels sing” already written by Wesley.

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 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 the favoured one
Veiled in flesh, the Godhead seen
Hail the incarnate deity
Pleased, as man with men to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Hark the herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn 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
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king

I am running out of time each day at the moment so this post will be brief - famous last words!!

What I would like to do over the next few postings is highlight some key phrases in a Carol. If you could grasp their meaning these phrases this Christmas it would revolutionise your life. We'll start with Hark the Herald Angels Sing - it could take a couple of days to explore it.

Today I want to draw your attention to the phrase in verse one - 'God and sinners reconciled'. The implication is that we are far from God, not on speaking terms and dead in sin. The truth is that the birth Christ ushered in the dawn of the day of salvation. We can be reconciled to God because He 'who knew no sin' (Jesus) was made sin for us (He took responsibility for our sin when he died on the cross)  'that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him,' 2 Cor. 5.21. 

By nature we are wrong, i.e. we are not right with God. This is why Jesus died to forgive us and make us right with God. 

I wonder if the words you sing in this Carol will affect your life this Christmas - will you be reconciled to God. The key is accepting that you are wrong and do wrong. It is understanding that wrong people cannot be in heaven and their are consequences to our sinfulness. Ultimately it is recognising that 'Christ died for our sins' and that through trusting Him we can have 'the forgiveness of sins'.

My prayer is that this Christmas will be very special for you.

To access podcasts and videos explaining the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ visit

This site will give you access to Bible Teaching Audio's and Video's as well.

1. Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook. Bethany Lutheran College. Retrieved 24 December 2012.

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