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"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Traditional religious Christmas carol


Jim Brickman - Peace

Jim Brickman - Peace

Windham Hill Records David Ian - Vintage Christmas

David Ian - Vintage Christmas

Prescott Records

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" was written in 1739 by Charles Wesley, the brother of the founder of the Methodist church, John Wesley. Though Welsey did not mind people reprinting and using his song, he did not want any words changed and he went so far as to put that in writing. His friend and co-worker, George Whitfield, ignored that request and changed the wording of the first two lines from "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings" to what we use today.

The original music played with "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" was also different from the current version, being slow and solemn, as that was what Wesley wanted and that was how the song was played for 101 years. In a completely unrelated event, in 1840, composer Felix Mendelssohn wrote a song to commemorate the invention of the printing press. He said that his music could be used for other works, with the exception that it was not to be used for sacred music. Fifteen years later an organist named William H. Cummings ignored that request and adopted the music from the second chorus of Mendelssohn's song for the carol. He also organized the song into the ten-line stanzas that are sung today. The final version was published in 1856.

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King,
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconcile.
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.

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, the incarnate deity,
pleased as Man with to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn 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 man no more may die,
born to raise the suns of earth,
born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Source: Public domain

The carol has been covered by artists from just about every style of music. From Frank Sinatra, Steve Martin and Nat King Cole to Martina McBride, Mariah Carey and Shedaisy -- secular artists have done the song justice for years. As for Christian artists, there are several great versions out there for your listening enjoyment. The Top Christian versions of the carol are found in the following list ...

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