Christmas music

Christmas Carols – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

“Hark The Herald Angels Sing” is a great Christmas hymn that we sang last Sunday, with some notes about it following it.

“Hark the Herald Angels sing”
Words by Charles Wesley & music by Felix Mendelssohn

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 Heav’n adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb:
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n 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!”

First, “hark” is an old word meaning “hear”.


Charles Wesley, who lived in the 1700s, wrote the lyrics was brother to John Wesley. They were founders of the Methodists which had a big influence in spreading Christianity including in the United Kingdom and the United States. They were a big part in spreading a revival in England during their lives.

Felix Mendelssohn, who lived in the early 1800s, wrote the music that was used for this piece. He was a classical composer and a Jewish believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is best known for the song that is commonly called “The Wedding March;” this was music he wrote to go to Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

I like the picture here that we see two believers, Jew and Gentile, whose works are used to praise the birth of the Messiah. This fits with the biblical accounts in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke in which Jews and Gentiles did this originally.


“Hark The Herald Angels Sing”  in the hymnal has a pattern of 77. 77. 77. 77. w/refrain. This means that it has four verses with two couplets of seven syllables each and a refrain. It is useful in seeing what other music might be used with it. This is why hymns can be song to different tunes. Of course, I can’t imagine singing this song to any other tune!

We can analyze the structure further by saying there are three verses; each verse is made up of four rhyming trochaic tetrameter couplets that end on a male stress. This is just a poetic way of saying that there are eight lines that are rhymed in groups of two. These lines each have four stressed-unstressed feet (dum-de) with the last one ending on a stress.

Something neat about the course or refrain is note all the long vowels in it. For example, see how long you can say “Hark” versus “Christ“ (first word of verse two). These allow for the words to be sustained which has a strong effect for the course. Of course, they’re not as long as the ones in the course of another Christmas song we sang last Sunday “Angels We Have Heard on High” – “Gloria In Excelsis Deo,Gloria In Excelsis Deo.” But it’s hard to beat Latin for long vowels!

The content of this song is really good, too, and that’s a key that makes it a good song. The first verse calls all to proclaim the birth of Christ; the second tells of his incarnation and birth; and the third of his glorious work. There is significant biblical language and theology in this. For example, note verse three-

“Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!”

Prince of Peace is one of the titles of Messiah given in Isaiah 9:6

“Hail the Sun of Righteousness!”

Sun of Righteousness is another title for the Messiah at his glorious second coming giving in Malachi 4:2

“Light and life to all He brings,”

This is a reference to the Gospel of John (1:4, 9) where the Lord Jesus is said to be the light gives life to all.

“Ris’n with healing in His wings.”
This is another reference to the Prophet Malachi 4:2 speaking of the work of Messiah at his return.

“Mild He lays His glory by,”

This seems to be a reference to the Apostle Paul‘s Epistle to the Philippians (2:6-8). This passage (2:6-11) may actually be an early hymn of the church.

“Born that man no more may die,”

This seems to be another reference to the Gospel of John, the account of the raising of Lazarus (John 11:26).

“Born to raise the sons of earth,”

This looks like a reference to a dialogue of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded in the Gospel of John (6:40).

“Born to give them second birth.”

This refers to the Lord Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in the Gospel of John chapter 3.

There are a number of ways to sing and enjoy songs like this. One way is to sing it as if you’re singing it for the first time and you’ve never heard of any of it before. Another way is to sing it with the knowledge of all the references and all that is stated and implied in each reference forming a sort of spiritual counterpoint to the experience.

Hymns and Songs

December 19, 2021 – “The Christmas story in Scripture and Song“ Worship Service

Join us on December 19, 2021. We will be having our Christmas program “The Christmas story in Scripture and Song” for our Worship service. This will include music from the singing group, “The Believers,” and Scripture readings from folks from the Chapel. There will also be some congregational singing for us all to join in.

This service will be live streamed at 11:15 a.m. To watch, go to our Facebook page (under videos).

Our in person Sunday service will include:
9:30 a.m. The Lord’s Supper/Breaking of Bread
10:00 am Sunday School, adult Sunday school by Tom Cantor
11:55 a.m. refreshments
11:15 a.m. Worship Service, “The Christmas story in Scripture and Song”
(We dress from very casual to formal.)

You can find directions here on our website

Watch Our December 12, 2021 Worship service, sermon by Sam Burton

Watch our December 12, 2021 Worship service, including singing, announcements, a musical special, and a Christmas and Gospel sermon by retired missionary Dr. Sam Burton.

Sam gave a Christmas message from Luke 2:8-9. He then connected it to Exodus 3:13-14 (I am who I am) and the “I am” sayings in the Gospel of John. He also spoke on the feeding of the 5000 (John 6:3-11) and how the Lord Jesus is “The Bread of Life. He brought up John 20:31 and concluded with a Gospel presentation and appeal.

Christmas carols – “ O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and Ceil Rosen

“Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel” (or “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”) is the first Christmas song we sang at the Chapel this Christmas season.

“Oh, Come, Oh, Come, Emmanuel”
Text: Latin him from the 1300s; tr. John Mason Neale

1. Oh, come, Oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Refrain: Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

2. Oh, come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Refrain: Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

3. Oh, come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
And drive away the shades of night,
And pierce the clouds and bring us light!

Refrain: Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

4. Oh, come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heav’nly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery

Refrain: Rejoice! rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!

This version has four stanzas each followed by a refrain. There are 4 feet per line and feet are iambic (de-dum, de-dum). The first two lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, and the last two lines of each stanza rhyme with each other, too. Also, the two line of the refrain rhyme with each other.

There is so much biblical imagery in this poem. For example, Emmanuel is from the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel of Matthew meaning “God with us.” “Rod of Jesse” is another messianic title (Isaiah 11:1-2). “Key of David“ is also from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 22:22).

Ceil Rosen, the wife of Moshe Rosen (The founder of Jews for Jesus) has a connection with this song, too – “The winter I was sixteen, my high school chorus had a major role in our school’s Christmas program…Dressed in long skirts and head scarves to approximate biblical garb, we moved across the stage in a kind of slow dance, singing, ‘O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.’ Though we had rehearsed those words many times, I suddenly found myself pondering their meaning. Was there something true about Jesus being for us Jews?”

You can read the rest of her testimony and how she helped lead her husband to Jesus the Messiah at Jews For Jesus

Music and singing is not only very enjoyable but a powerful influence, too.

Christmas Special Music – “Carol of the Bells (Pentatonix Version)” by the de la Motte Springs

More Christmas music! Listen to another special music by the de la Motte Strings “Carol of the Bells (Pentatonix Version).” The number of musicians they have playing varies; this time they are a string quartet!

The de la Motte’s have moved to further their musical education. We miss them and their music. You can find more of their music on YouTube at de la Motte Strings. And occasionally on Saturdays when they’re visiting you can catch them playing in Balboa Park.