Hark! The Herald Angels Sing (ELW 270)
1 Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born king;
peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled.”
Joyful, all you nations, rise;
join the triumph of the skies;
with angelic hosts proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Hark! The herald angels sing,
“Glory to the new-born king!”
2 Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the ever-lasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of the virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see!
Hail, the incarnate deity!
Pleased as man with us to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel! [Refrain]
3 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 we no more may die,
born to raise each child of earth,
born to give us second birth. [Refrain]
Most of us know the first verse of this hymn by heart—maybe it was one of the songs in the Sunday School Christmas program; perhaps we heard it close “A Charlie Brown Christmas;” it echoes words from the Gospel of Luke.
In the second and third verses we see more of John’s Gospel. Verse two moves from the virgin to the word become flesh: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail incarnate deity. Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel!” The power of God’s word is no longer hidden in a frail infant. God, as God, is in plain view.
Verse three reflects images from John’s prologue: “Light and life to all he brings.” The concluding phrases—“Born to raise each child of earth, born to give us second birth”—moves to the third chapter of John, reminding us of the story of Nicodemus and its talk of new birth. This hymn reminds us of the richness of hearing God’s word from many voices.
Help us, Lord, to listen to your word, and to hear your angels sing. May we ever praise Christ who is our king. Amen.