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Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Today’s video features the triumphant Christmas hymn, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.” Written by Charles Wesley in 1739, the original opening line read, “Hark, how all the welkin [heaven or sky] rings.” In 1753 George Whitefield changed the opening line to that which we are familiar with today. There have been numerous additional revisions since then, in spite of Wesley’s wish that the original text not be modified.

The music was written by classical composer Felix Mendelssohn. It comes from his Festgasang, composed in 1840 to mark the 400th anniversary of the invention of printing with movable type by Gutenberg. Mendehssohn expected the tune would “never do to sacred words”, and Wesley had wished his text be paired with more somber music. Regardless, in 1856 William Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s music to fit with the text Wesley had written.

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 th’angelic hosts 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 Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
born that we no more may die,
born to raise us from the earth,
born to give us second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”

Thank you for listening!

6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 9:6)


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