Welcome!  Hymns have been and continue to be a real source of inspiration to me.  My desire in this blog is to share special hymns with my readers hoping that the words will minister to them, especially in times of great personal need.  If one of these hymns ministers to you, please take time to leave a comment so that I know that my blog is helping others as much as it helps me. Sometimes I will also provide a link where you can go to hear the hymn played.  So, please join me here each week and sing along as we praise God together.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

HARK THE HERALD ANGELS SING

One of the things I most appreciate about the Christmas season is the beautiful music that we hear during this time. One of my very favorites is "Hark! the Herald Angels Sing". It is one of more than 6,500 hymns written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church. Written in 1739, it is generally thought to be one of Wesley's finest and John Julian, noted hymnologist, considered this one of the four most popular hymns in the English language. A sombre man, Wesley requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was sung to a different tune initially. Over a hundred years later, in 1840, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed a cantata 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. In its original version the text consisted of ten four-line stanzas. There have been many alterations made over the years to the words but the present version is still basically the product of Charles Wesley. The text is really a condensed course in biblical doctrine in poetic form. The first stanza tells of the angels appearing to the shepherds and the following verses teach such spiritual truths as the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the immoratality of the soul, the second birth and a concern for Christ like living. It is interesting to note that in 1627 the English Puritan parliament abolished the celebration of Christmas and all other "wordly festivals". During the remainder of the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century there was a scarcity of carol hymns in England. So this hymn is one of the relatively few important carol hymns to have been written during this time. I have included the most commonly found verses below, although in practice today most just sing the first three, or variations of those three. So as part of your Christmas celebration, join in singing this great carol.

(1) 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!"

(2) Christ by highest heav'n 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 Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(3) Hail the heav'n-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 sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

(4) Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman's conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent's head.
Adam's likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Listen to it here. LISTEN

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