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Hark the herald angels sing


Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy


William H. Cummings


Words: C. Wesley, T. Whitfield, M. Madan and others.


Hark, the herald-angels sing
glory to the new-born 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 new-born 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 man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
    Hark, the herald-angels sing
    glory to the new-born 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 new-born King.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
fix in us thy humble home;
rise, the woman's conquering seed,
bruise in us the serpent's head;
now display thy saving power,
ruined nature now restore,
now in mystic union join
thine to ours and ours to thine.
    Hark, the herald-angels sing
    glory to the new-born King.


Hark the herald - Mendelssohn

Created 15-Sep-08 Revised 20-Apr-09

Hark the herald angels sing

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a Christmas hymn written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley. It first appeared in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739. The original opening couplet was "Hark! How all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings". The version known today is the result of alterations by various hands, most notably George Whitfield, Wesley's co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one we know today.

One of the tunes originally used for the carol was also used as a tune for Amazing Grace. Wesley himself, however, envisaged his lyrics sung to the same tune as his Easter hymn, Christ the Lord is Risen Today.

The tune that is now almost always used for this carol is based on a chorus composed by Felix Mendelssohn in 1840, part of his cantata Festgesang an die Künstler ("Festival Song") to commemorate the printer Johann Gutenberg and the invention of his printing press. The cantata was first presented at the great festival held at Leipzig. Festgesang's second chorus, "Vaterland, in deinem Gauen", was adapted in 1855 by William Hayman Cummings. Mendelssohn said of the song that it could be used with many different choruses but that it should not be used for sacred music. This may be because the melodic and harmonic structure of the tune are similar to the Gavotte of Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4; indeed Mendelssohn (who has always been linked with the music of Bach) may simply have adapted Bach's music for his chorus, as was proposed by Nigel Poole with his (transposed) arrangement of the Gavotte as Bach's Christmas Carol.


In the UK at least Hark! The Herald Angels Sing has popularly been performed in an arrangement that maintains the basic original William Hayman Cummings harmonisation of the Mendelssohn tune for the first two verses but adds a soprano descant and a last verse harmonisation for the organ in verse 3 by Sir David Willcocks. This arrangement was first published in 1961 by Oxford University Press in the first book of the Carols for Choirs series.

For many years it has served as the recessional hymn of the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols in King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Metasyntactic variable".

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