Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

One of the purposes of a Christmas carol (or hymn) is to remind what Christmas is about. Today everyone attends school and learns the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. However, that was not always the case as the poor were often illiterate. To combat this, Charles Wesley, a Methodist preacher, decided to write hymns and poems to be to convey to them Christian doctrine. He wrote over 6,000 hymns making him one of the most prolific writers of hymns in history. He was the brother of John Wesley, who had founded Methodism, who used the hymns his brother wrote for Methodist services. Because of the large use of songs, Methodism is said to have been born of song.

One of the most famous songs he wrote was Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (published 1739). He wrote it as a poem inspired by hearing the London church bells ring on Christmas Day. George Whitefield, who was a student and later a close friend of Wesley, put it to music and added the words “newborn king” to it. The song relates the good news of the savior’s birth, and that God has sent him to reconcile sinners. The song is deeply infused with theology and one of the reasons it is so popular in churches and by the public as well. Here is a version that Amy Grant uses. It is remarkable due to her deep and rich voice but that she used slightly different lyrics than normal. Most people really like this version and I hope you will to. Merry Christmas!