Hark! The Herald Angels Sing: Advent Hymn for Christmas


“Hark” isn’t a word that people use much anymore, but it’s preserved in the Advent hymn, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and for good reason.

The angels have an important message for humanity: God has become a man in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the baby born to Mary in Bethlehem.

The theme of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing is worshiping Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible teaches that only God is worthy of worship.

Created beings, like people and angels, aren’t to be worshiped. Jesus received people’s worship at his birth, at the Triumphal Entry, and from individuals like Thomas.

Also see Advent Hymns for Christmas: 151 Favorites for more.

Hark the Herald Angels Sing Advent hymn
What is the story behind Hark! The Herald Angels Sing? See below

Lyrics to the Advent Hymn Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Christ is the newborn king, the everlasting Lord, and the prince of peace, according to the lyrics of this beloved hymn. The lyrics are rich in biblical imagery and Christ-centered theology.

As worshipers sing the hymn, they reflect on a variety of topics, such as angels, reconciliation, Mary, and the good news of the gospel. “Born to give us second birth” is the significance of Jesus’ birth.

“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 th’angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King”
2 Christ, by highest heaven adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the Virgin’s womb:
veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
hail th’incarnate Deity,
pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel. [Refrain]
3 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. [Refrain]

Charles Spurgeon writes, “Feast, Christians, feast; you have a right to feast… But in your feasting, think of the Man in Bethlehem. Let Him have a place in your hearts, give Him the glory, think of the virgin who conceived Him, but think most of all of the Man born, the Child given. I finish by again saying, A happy Christmas to you all!”

Also see What Child Is This? for more.

Jesus Christ manger
What Bible verses are related to this hymn? See below

Story of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

This hymn by Charles Wesley was written within a year of Wesley’s conversion. Thus, as Albert Bailey writes, “the inspiration of his newly-made contact with God was still fresh” (The Gospel in Hymns, 100). Rather than simply tell the nativity story, Wesley pours theological truths into this text.

The first verse tells the story of the angels proclaiming Christ’s birth, and the second and third verse go on to make it very clear why the angels sang. Simply by describing Christ, Wesley tells us the entire Gospel story. We are told of Christ’s nature, his birth and incarnation, his ministry, and his salvific purpose.

The Psalter Hymnal Handbook describes the hymn like this: “A curious mixture of exclamation, exhortation, and theological reflection. The focus shifts rapidly from angels, to us, to nations.”

It continues: “The text’s strength may not lie so much in any orderly sequence of thought but in its use of Scripture to teach its theology. That teaching surely produces in us a childlike response of faith; we too can sing ‘Glory to the newborn King!” (From hymnary.org)

Also see Silent Night Holy Night for more.

Christian church
What does “Advent” mean? See below

Bible verses related to the hymn for Advent

  • Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.”
  • Matthew 20:28, “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
  • Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”
  • John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
  • Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law”
  • Colossians 2:9, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”
  • Hebrews 1:3, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”

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