the prophet Isaiah

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”.

Authors

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.

Analysis

“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

Read “Is the Jewish Messiah God as a man?” by Tom Cantor

Read 2. Is the Jewish Messiah God as a man? in Tom Cantor’s short evangelistic book “Frequently Asked Questions By Jewish People.”

In the previous section, Tom discussed the Trinity and the Old Testament. Here he discusses the Lord Jesus Christ as both God and man. He appeals to the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Micah and the apostle John.

Again, understanding this is not only important in Jewish evangelism, but also in reaching Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormon, or anyone else who would have this type of question.

Also, this is a good way for us to better understanding the Bible and our own beliefs. Christian apologetics (reasons to believe) is a way of thinking carefully of the truths about God at a basic level to reach unbelievers with the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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2.  Is the Jewish Messiah God as a man?

The common Jewish mind set is that the Messiah could never be God, because no man could ever become God. However, the Bible does not teach that man became God; on the contrary, it teaches that God became a man.

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2). The Jewish prophet, Micah prophesied that the Jewish Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. However, Messiah’s existence would not start at birth because He has no beginning; He is “from everlasting.” Eternality is an attribute that belongs only to God, and for Messiah to possess eternality would unquestionably show His deity. This prophecy was fulfilled when the eternal, divine Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) The Jewish prophet, Isaiah also told of the Messiah. In this passage, a promise was given to Israel of a amazing child whose description was unparalleled by any other child ever born. He would be called Wonderful Counselor, The Prince of Peace, The Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father.

God the Son could be referred to as Mighty or Almighty or Everlasting, but why was He called the Father?  Each person in the Godhead is so one (echad) with the others the Messiah said concerning Himself, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9). Though Elohim is three, He is still one.  For example, every person is made up of three parts: body, soul and spirit. No one ever asks a person if it is his body, spirit, or soul speaking; they are all one!

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5-6) A third Jewish prophet who foretold of the Messiah was Jeremiah. This future descendant of David was described as the “Righteous Branch.”  His name would be called “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Psalms 53:3 says that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Who, then, is this righteous Israelite, descendant of David, and One called Lord and God? Who is this One who is a King, a Judge, and the Savior of the Jews? It can be none other than the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

All of these Scriptures teach us clearly that the Messiah is the Son of God or God the Son. As the second person in the Godhead, the Messiah is worthy of our worship.

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The book is available free online at Israel Restoration Ministries Print copies may be purchased at the Creation and Earth History Museum The book is also available for purchase there in Spanish Preguntas Frecuentes Hechas Por El Pueblo Judio 

Frequently Asked Questions By Jewish People
Frequently Asked Questions By Jewish People by Tom Cantor

Read free online at Israel Restoration Ministries

  1. Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the tri-unity of the Godhead?
  2. Is the Jewish Messiah God as a man?
  3. Is the Lord Jesus Christ God?
  4. Is it possible for a man to see God the Son?
  5. How can the Jewish Messiah be identified?
  6. Do the Hebrew Scriptures support the virgin birth?
  7. Do all men have a sinful nature?
  8. Is there a mediator between God and man?
  9. What is the difference between a Gentile and a Christian?
  10. What is the difference between Israel and the church?
  11. What is a Jew?
  12. Is it possible to be both Jewish and a Christian?
  13. Why did rabbis never tell Jewish people about Jesus, the Messiah?
  14. Why do some Jewish people doubt the existence of God?
  15. Do the Hebrew Scriptures teach on Heaven and Hell?
  16. What is God’s plan for the salvation of the Jewish people?
  17. Is baptism a Jewish ritual?
  18. Is it worth it for a Jewish person to receive the Lord Jesus Christ?
  19. What is God’s purpose for the Jewish people?
  20. What peace did Messiah bring to earth?
  21. Do Jewish people automatically go to Heaven?
  22. Where was God during the Nazi disaster?
  23. Can man write and say the name of God?
  24. Why is the name of Jesus Christ not found in the Hebrew Scriptures?
  25. Can someone understand the Scriptures without knowing Hebrew?
  26. Is God needed to understand the truths of the Scriptures?
  27. Was an oral law given to the rabbis separate from the written law of Moses?
  28. Who really killed the Lord Jesus Christ?
  29. Haven’t Christians been responsible for persecuting the Jewish people?
  30. Does a Jewish person cease to be Jewish by following the Lord Jesus Christ?
  31. Why do English Bibles translate some prophecy differently than the Hebrew?
  32. Who is the Servant?
  33. Does God ever use numbers to send secret messages (numerology) as the Kabbalah and other Jewish mysticism writings teach?
  34. What does it Mean to Have Eternal Life or to be Saved?

More free Jewish Evangelism resources HERE