A Strong Theology in Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Charles Wesley wrote this hymn as ten four-line stanzas in 1739. George Whitefield made alterations in 1753, changing the first line to “Hark! The herald angels sing.” In 1782, the refrain was added. Others in the eighteenth-century shortened and modified the words. What we sing today is close to the final version published in 1810.
This hymn exalts Jesus. I love the descriptions used:
- Newborn King
- The everlasting Lord
- Offspring of the virgin’s womb
- The Godhead veiled in flesh
- The incarnate Deity
- As man with men to dwell
- Our Emmanuel
- The heaven-born Prince of Peace
- The Sun of Righteousness
- Risen with healing in His wings
- Desire of nations
- The woman’s conquering Seed
- Second Adam from above
What does this hymn speak to you about Christ? Go through the words, looking for what Christ has done for you.
Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Lyrics of Hark! the Herald Angels Sing (from Hymnary.org)
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 heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold Him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel. [Refrain]
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 we no more may die,
born to raise the sons of earth,
born to give them second birth. [Refrain]
Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us Thy humble home;
rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Adam’s likeness now efface,
stamp Thine image in its place;
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love. [Refrain]
Knowing God through Hymns
Starting in 2017, join me once per month in praising God for who He is. For this series, I’m using each of the hymns at the ends of all the 57 chapters of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (with a break this month for Advent hymns).Want to find more hymns from this Sunday hymn series? Click the hymn tag.
- Read this biography of Charles Wesley (1707 – 1788), considered the greatest hymn writer of all time; he composed 8,989 hymns (10 times more than Isaac Watts).
- The theological study of Christ is called Christology.
- Scripture references for Hark! the Herald Angels Sing provided by Hymnary.org:
Source: I’m sure you’re aware that European cathedrals depicted biblical scenes in their stained glass and sculptures. Today, I chose a photo of the shepherds, sculpted on the Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona, Spain (still under construction). This picture is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license on Wikimedia Commons.