FAQ for Christmas

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Music by, Felix Mendelssohn in 1840 (1809-1847)
Words by Charles Wesley in 1739 and amended by George Whitfield in 1753 then again by Martin Madan in 1760.
Other changes occured in 1782, 1810 and again in 1961. The first known arranged version of this song was presented in 1855 on Christmas Day and arranged by William Hayman Cummings.

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.

The History of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!

Taken from: http://www3.pair.com/montrsmu/carolshist/hark.html

"The music is from the second chorus of a cantata by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) written in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg and the invention of printing. The words are from a hundred years earlier, written in 1739 by Charles Wesley whose brother, John, founded the Methodist Church. "Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings," he originally wrote.

A colleague, the Calvinist Whitefield, substituted the familiar opening line over the protests of the author. In 1855, after both Wesley and Mendelssohn were dead, Dr. William Cummings put the words and music together in spite of evidence that neither author nor composer would have approved.

Note: Mendelssohn had made it clear that his music was for secular use, and Wesley had specifically requested slow solemn music for his words."

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