Thursday, February 7, 2008

hark! the herald angel sing

Each day of Lent I am publishing one of Charles Wesley's hymns or poems. In my experience, the selection of Charles Wesley's hymns that we actually use in worship is very small. This is sad, because his hymns are filled with deep theological truths and great beauty.

Use these as a part of your Lenten disciplines, and share any thoughts or reactions in the comments.

Lent Day 2

Hark! the Herald Angel Sing
(United Methodist Hymnal #240)

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 a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th' incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh 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 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 new born King!"


  • Hark! means "Listen!" A herald is someone who announces important news. So the first line and title of this famous hymn and Christmas carol essentially means, "Listen up! There are angles singing about important news." The next three lines are the actual content of that important news. See Luke 2:8-14
  • Even in a hymn about the birth of Christ, Charles includes the good news of reconciliation: "God and sinners reconciled."
  • The second and third verses proclaim the profound mystery of the incarnation, that God has become flesh and lived among us. Remember that without Christmas, there is no Easter.
  • These are not Charles' original words. See why they were changed?

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