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.”
The hymn was written in the eighteenth-century by Charles Wesley himself, who, according to legend, requested that it’s accompanying hymn be solemn and slow. Oops. Mendelssohn, with the help of arranger William H. Cummings, wrote the version we all know today and it has been the carol to end the Lessons and Carols service at King’s College in Cambridge since its inception.
Though many of us did not fully understand this carol when we were younger, thanks in large part to Charlie Brown’s little sister Sally, it tells the glad tidings of the angels from that Christmas night so long ago. The later verses then go on to retell the wonder of God coming to live among mortals in order that they may rise to live with God.
On Christmas Eve, what better carol is there to sing in praise to our 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 we no more may die. Born to raise us from the earth. Born to give us second birth. Hark! the herald-angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king.”