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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 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 men 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 sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth:
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.
Words: Charles Wesley (1707-88), George Whitfield (1714-70),
Martin Madan (1726-90) and William Hayman Cummings (1831-1915) Music: Mendelssohn, from a chorus by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-47), adapted by William Hayman Cummings

The carol we now know as "Hark! the herald angels sing" did not start life as such, and required at least four people to bring it to its current form. Wesley's original, written as a Christmas Day hymn and first published in 1739, is made up of ten four-line verses, rather than the longer eight-line verses with refrain which we have now.

It is interesting to note that in the original version of Wesley's, the heavens ring with the phrase "Glory to the King of kings," echoing Luke's "Glory to God in the highest heaven."

George Whitfield, who had been a student with Wesley, changed this to "Glory ...

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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing: From Wesley to Our Hymnals
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December 2007

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