Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Part three of a series on Christmas songs
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
(Luke 2:13-14 NIV)
In the run up to Christmas we will undoubtedly hear many carols, either on the radio, on TV, in the supermarkets, and of course in our churches up and down the land. These carols can be an excellent way of reaching people who don’t normally go to church with the gospel message. One of the most profound Christmas carols was written by Charles Wesley in 1739, called Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Wesley wrote around 6,500 hymns with the intention of instructing people in the great truths of the Christian faith, and this carol is no exception. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is rich in its scriptural allusions and teaching. The carol includes references to several messianic prophecies pointing to the birth of the Messiah. The song is full of theological themes, including the Incarnation, Atonement, Resurrection, the Fall of Man, Sanctification, the renewal of the image of Christ in the believer, and Christ being formed in us.
Here are some of the references:
Hark the herald angels sing (Luke 2:13-14)
Glory to the newborn King! (Matthew 2:1-2)
Peace on earth and mercy mild (Luke 2:14; 1:78)
God and sinners reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:20-22)
Joyful, all ye nations rise (Revelation 21:24; Haggai 2:6-7)
Join the triumph of the skies (Luke 2:13-14)
With the angelic host proclaim: (Luke 2:10-11)
Christ is born in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:1; Micah 5:2)
Christ by highest heav’n adored (Luke 2:9-14; Revelation 5:13; Hebrews 1:6)
Christ the everlasting Lord! (Revelation 22:12-13)
Late in time behold Him come (Galatians 4:4)
Offspring of a virgin’s womb (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-38)
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see (Philippians 2:1-11)
Hail the incarnate Deity (John 1:1- 18)
Pleased as man with man to dwell (John 1:14; Romans 1:3; 8:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7-8; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 2:9-11; 1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 1:7; Revelation 22:16)
Jesus, our Emmanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)
Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! (Isaiah 9:6)
Hail the Sun of Righteousness! (Malachi 4:2)
Light and life to all He brings (John 1:4, 10; 8:12; 2 Timothy 1:10)
Ris’n with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2)
Mild He lays His glory by (Philippians 2:6-8; John 17:5, 24.)
Born that man no more may die (John 11:25-26)
Born to raise the sons of earth (1 Corinthians 15:35-57)
Born to give them second birth (John 1:13; 3:3, 6; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; Titus 3:5).
Examining Wesley’s carol makes a wonderful Bible Study. As we approach Christmas, why not take some time to go through it and look up some of the scriptures that relate to his inspiring words.
Loving Father, we join with the angels in praising you for sending your Son to this earth; glory to you in the highest, in Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.
Grace Communion International Camberwell
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