Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

We all have different Christmas carols and hymns that especially encourage our hearts. For me, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! has long been my favorite.

Let's look at the four verses and see what Charles Wesley (author, written in 1739) was thinking when he penned this Christmas classic. I've included hyperlinks to the Bible verses Wesley must have been referencing (my apologies that the hyperlinks send you to a different page ... I'm working on correcting that). Here we go!

An angel in a cemetery, weathered by time, but still a powerful image
Verse 1: Hark, the Herald Angels sing ...
Hark!¹ the herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth,² and mercy mild;
God and sinners reconciled.”³
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With angelic hosts proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.”⁴
  1. Hark!  Wake up! Listen!
  2. "Glory to the new-born King! Peace on earth ..."  A direct reference to Luke 2:14, where the angels announce these words to the shepherds.
  3. God and sinners reconciled.  To go from enemies to friends (Romans 5:10; Colossians 1:21-22)
  4. Christ is born in Bethlehem.  Micah 5:2 and John 7:42
Verse 2: Offspring of the Virgin's womb.
Christ, by highest heav’n adored,¹
Christ, the everlasting Lord
Late in time³ behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.⁴
Veiled in flesh⁵ the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate Deity!⁶
Pleased as man⁷ with man to dwell,
Jesus our Immanuel.⁸
  1. Adored.  Do you adore Jesus? If not, you haven't yet apprehended His worth.
  2. Christ the everlasting Lord.  Luke 2:11
  3. Late in time.  Galatians 4:4
  4. Virgin's womb.  Though many liberal theologians are scandalized by this idea (of a virgin being pregnant), it was certainly predicted in Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23. But for some, the Word of God is less believable than so-called science and reason (both of which are created by the infinite God). So, liberals writers re-wrote Charles Wesley's words to say: "Offspring of the favored One" (check your hymnal). They simply couldn't accede to the Scripture's claim: that Christ was born of a virgin! I say: Yes, he was.
  5. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see.  John 1:1, 14
  6. Deity.  Colossians 2:9; Titus 2:13; John 20:26-28.
  7. Man. Jesus was simultaneously 100% God and 100% man.
  8. Immanuel.  Matthew 1:23
Verse 3: The Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His wings.
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,⁴
Born that man no more may die;⁵
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.⁶
  1. Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6
  2. Sun of Righteousness.  Malachi 4:2
  3. Healing in his wings.  Malachi 4:2
  4. Lays His glory by.  Philippians 2:6-7
  5. No more may die.  John 11:25
  6. Second birth.  John 3:3   It has been said that God only has children, not grandchildren. Thus each of us must become His child, by being born a second time. This is the story of John 3:3 when Jesus says, "You must be born again." Here is a riddle for you to decode:
Born once, Die twice.
Born twice, Die once.
Verse 4: The Desire of Nations
Come, Desire of nations,¹ come!
Fix in us Thy humble home:
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head

Adam’s likeness³ now efface,
Stamp Thine image⁴ in its place:
Second Adam⁵ from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.⁶
  1. Desire of nations.  Haggai 2:7
  2. Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head.  Genesis 3:15
  3. Adam’s likeness.  Genesis 5:3  (and so on, and so on ...)
  4. Thine image.  Romans 8:29
  5. Second Adam.  Romans 5:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22
  6. Reinstate us in Thy love.  This is the essence of the Gospel!  We see this explicitly when Jesus reinstates Peter in His love in John 21:15.

Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born King.”

Magnificent! The King has come!  Hark! He has come! And best of all: He will come again! Come, Lord Jesus, come!