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Continuing with our look at Christmas carols we come to one which is a theological statement proclaiming the universal importance of the birth of Jesus of Bethlehem. Since its appearance in 1739 it has been included in almost 100 hymnals in the English-speaking world with some small revisions over the past 281 years.

Charles Wesley pulls together the New Testament themes of God’s redeeming love in the carol “Hark! the herald angels sing”. Verse 1 focusses on the Christmas story of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Verse 2 causes us to think about what Jesus, the Son of God, set aside in choosing to leave the highest heaven, and “as Man with man to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.” Verse 3 celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ through whom comes healing and second birth, “light and life to all He brings.”

The music we associate with this carol, “Mendelssohn”, comes from the second number of Jakob Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s 1840 composition “Festgesang” Opus 68 which was adapted by William Hayman Cummings, organist at Waltham Abbey, in 1856. A stirring piece of music to celebrate the birth and life of “the new born King.”

Bible Reading: John 1:1-14