Charles Wesley, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

, , Comments Off on Charles Wesley, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

Arminian churchman and brother of John Wesley, Charles Wesley, is considered to be one of the greatest hymn writers of all time and was labeled by one Christian History article as the “greatest hymn writer of all time.” He wrote the famous Christmas carol “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” As Carol Blair observes, “Considered by many hymnologists to be the greatest Christmas hymn, ‘Hark! the Herald Angels Sing’ is both a much-loved carol and a poetical essay on Bible doctrine.” Indeed, Denise Loock notes, “In the original version of “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” Wesley referred to at least forty Scripture passages. In doing so, he alluded to many doctrinal truths about the person and work of Jesus Christ — emphasizing his deity, his redemptive work, and his Second Coming.” In light of the current Christmas season of 2023, this post will simply lay out the lyrics of Wesley’s wonderful hymn and link to some treatments of its biblical richness.

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 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 the incarnate Deity,
pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]

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. [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.

Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart

For brief discussion of the biblical background of the carol, see the following articles:

Denise Loock, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”

C. Michael Hawn, History of Hymns: “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”

Carol Blair, Blair: “‘Hark! The Herald Angels Sing’ a Poetical Essay on Bible Doctrine”

Bible Verses to Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Robert M. Solomon, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”