Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

The prolific hymn writer Charles Wesley first wrote these lyrics in 1739, a year after his conversion. It was first published in Sacred Hymns and Poems – Charles’ first joint hymnal with his brother John, and was under the title “Hymn for Christmas-Day”. The original first line written by Charles was “Hark how all the welkin rings” but was later changed (with some other adjustments throughout the hymn) to what we know it now by George Whitefield, a friend of John and Charles Wesley, when he published this song in his Hymns for Social Worship in 17531. For me, this is my favourite Christmas Carol, which is why I have left until last. I have you have enjoyed these Advent/Christmas songs through December, and have a blessed New Year 🙂

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 th’angelic hosts 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 the Virgin’s womb:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.


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 we no more may die,
Born to raise us from the earth,
Born to give us second birth.


Angels We Have Heard on High

French legend indicates that in medieval times on Christmas Eve, the shepherds would sing and call to one another from one hillside to another.  “They would call “Gloria in excelsis Deo” which means “glory to God in the highest” in Latin. It was how they would spread their holiday message and cheer from points far away to one another. Angels We Have Heard on High is of French origin and originally titled “Les anges dans nos campagnes“.  The original author of the song is unknown, but believed to be from Languedoc, France. In 1862, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, northeast England, James Chadwick translated the song into English. The English version was published that years in the Crown of Jesus Music1.

Angels we have heard on high,
Sweetly singing o’er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.

Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heav’nly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.



O Little Town of Bethlehem

In 1865, the year the Civil War in America ended and President Lincoln was assassinated, themes of peace and quiet would probably have been welcome to Americans. In that year, the Rev. Phillips Brooks took a trip to Israel and saw Bethlehem and it’s surrounding fields on Christmas Eve, which eventually inspired him to write this Christmas hymn. In contrast to some other Christmas hymns that emphasise the glory of God as seen in the grand chorus of angels, Brooks focuses on the quietness of Christ’s birth, and how little the larger world paid attention. The final stanza is a prayer that Christ would come and be present with us1.

O little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
the silent stars go by;
yet in thy dark streets shineth
the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years
are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary,
and, gathered all above
while mortals sleep, the angels keep
their watch of wond’ring love.
O morning stars, together
proclaim the holy birth,
and praises sing to God the King
and peace to all the earth.

How silently, how silently,
the wondrous gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
the blessings of his heav’n.
No ear may hear his coming,
but in this world of sin,
where meek souls will receive him, still
the dear Christ enters in.

O holy Child of Bethlehem,
descend to us, we pray,
cast out our sin and enter in,
be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels
the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us,
our Lord Immanuel!


Come Adore The Humble King

This modern Christmas song by Matt Boswell and Matt Papa has become one of my favourites since my church sung it for our Christmas celebration service. It tells of the lowliness and humility of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who is worthy of all our adoration and praise as the King above all kings.

Come adore the humble King
Lowly in the manger
Fall before His majesty
Hail the little Savior
Hope what hope no tongue could tell
God has come with us to dwell
His name is Emmanuel
O praise the humble King

Come adore in humble state
He the song of angels
Join the wise who call His name
And with all creation
Who oh who would condescend
God unknown now calls us friend
Love that none could comprehend
O praise the humble King

Come adore the King who came
To our world to save us
Born to heal our prideful race
Crown us with forgiveness
Fall oh fall before the one
Who in mercy left His throne
Christ the Lord God’s only Son
His glories now we sing
O praise the humble King

Come adore come adore
Come adore the King
Bow before come adore the
Name above all names

O Holy Night

‘O Holy Night’ had its origins in the mid-1800s in France. But the song stirred a lot of controversy in the church, to the point where it was banned. When asked to pen a poem for his parish’s Mass that Christmas, composer Placide Cappeau thought about the birth of Jesus, as cataloged in the Gospel of Luke, as he wrote the lyrics. He enlisted the help of his Jewish friend Adolphe Charles Adams to aid in the composition of the music. The song was initially titled, “Cantique de Noel.” Although the church in France initially accepted the carol, Cappeau was later swayed by socialist propaganda and walked away from his faith. The church in France condemned the work due to this. Nevertheless, the lyrics and music made its ways to America through abolitionist John Sullivan Dwight. Thanks to Dwight and the covert efforts of the lyrics being sung during Christmas in Europe, the song’s notoriety spread worldwide, rumoured to have been even sung on Christmas Eve during the Franco-Prussian War1. Here is a beautiful choral version I think you’ll enjoy 🙂

O holy night! the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope- the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here came the Wise Men from Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger,
In all our trials born to be our Friend.
He knows our need— to our weakness is no stranger.
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother,
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we;
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!


O Come All Ye Faithful

Sometime in the early part of the 18th century an unknown French hymnist penned the words and music for “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” The hymn first appeared in a collection by John Francis Wade, priest of a private chapel, in 1751. At that time it was in Latin. Since that time over 40 different English translations have been made1.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold Him born the King of Angels

O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

God of God, light of light eternal
Lo, he abhors not the virgin’s womb
Son of the Father, begotten not created

Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above
Glory to God, glory in the Highest

Yea, Lord we greet Thee, born for our salvation
Jesus to Thee be all glory given
Word of the Father now in flesh appearing


Joy to the World

Although this is a favourite Christmas carol, surprisingly, this hymn was not written for Christmas. Rather, Isaac Watts wrote the hymn as a paraphrase of the last five verses in Psalm 98 for his 1719 publication, The Psalms of David Imitated. In this hymnal, Watts rewrites many of the psalms using a Christological lens. His versification of Psalm 98 is no different. Verse nine of the psalm reads, “…let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.” Watts unapologetically interprets this as a reference to Christ. The theme of “Christ coming” made it an apt hymn to be sung at Christmastime, and it has since become one of the most beloved Christmas carols1. I haven’t included a video below as there are so many! Perhaps post your favourite 🙂 Have a blessed Christmas and Lord’s Day!

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;
let ev’ry heart prepare him room
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n and nature sing,
and heav’n, and heav’n and nature sing.

Joy to the earth, the Savior reigns!
Let men their songs employ,
while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat the sounding joy,
repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow
nor thorns infest the ground;
he comes to make his blessings flow
far as the curse is found,
far as the curse is found,
far as, far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace
and makes the nations prove
the glories of his righteousness
and wonders of his love,
and wonders of his love,
and wonders, wonders of his love.


Silent Night, Lonely Night

As we reach the eve of celebrating Christ’s birth, I was going to share the classic Christmas song Silent Night, however have decided to post Sovereign Grace’s new remake: Silent Night, Lonely Night. The traditional version tells of the night when Jesus was born (which my pastor, always jokingly adds, was probably far from silent!). This version, however, alludes to those saints who believed God that the Messiah would come, and yet not seeing what they believed. It also connects with those who have wondered if God is listening and will answer their prayers through trials and suffering. It’s a lovely rendition, and not a traditional Christmas song in the sense of speaking explicitly throughout of Christ’s birth, but is in the spirit of Advent – waiting for God to do what He has promised.

Silent night, lonely night
All but calm, all but bright
Darkened clouds have hidden God’s face
Deepening doubts have veiled His grace
Have You heard our cries?
Have You heard our cries?

Silent night, lonely night
Wearied by many trials
Clinging to the promise foretold
Peace and comfort for our souls
Lord, we long for You
Lord, we long for You

Jesus, You entered our night
Bore our sorrows, laid down Your life
Conquered the darkness and rose up in light
All of our hope is in You

Silent night, lonely night
Yet there’s peace, at Your side
Covered by redeeming blood
Sheltered in Your arms of love
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
All is calm and bright

Joy Has Dawned

Keith and Stuart Townend originally wrote “Joy Has Dawned” for a collection of hymns on the Apostle’s Creed. Like many carols, Stuart’s lyrics explain the Gospel story as the song develops. When they sing this song in church services they combine it with one of their favourite carols, “Angels We Have Heard on High.”1 Enjoy 🙂

Joy has dawned upon the world,
Promised from creation—
God’s salvation now unfurled,
Hope for ev’ry nation.
Not with fanfares from above,
Not with scenes of glory,
But a humble gift of love—
Jesus born of Mary.

Sounds of wonder fill the sky
With the songs of angels
As the mighty Prince of Life
Shelters in a stable.
Hands that set each star in place,
Shaped the earth in darkness,
Cling now to a mother’s breast,
Vuln’rable and helpless.

Shepherds bow before the Lamb,
Gazing at the glory;
Gifts of men from distant lands
Prophesy the story.
Gold—a King is born today,
Incense—God is with us,
Myrrh—His death will make a way,
And by His blood He’ll win us.

Son of Adam, Son of heaven,
Given as a ransom;
Reconciling God and man,
Christ, our mighty champion!
What a Savior! What a Friend!
What a glorious myst’ry!
Once a babe in Bethlehem,
Now the Lord of hist’ry.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Him whose birth the angels sing,
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.

Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of America’s greatest poets. Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807 and experienced quite a bit of tragedy. His first wife, Mary Potter, died suddenly while Longfellow was overseas. After a long and difficult courtship, he married Frances Appleton in 1843 and the couple had six children. In 1861, while sealing envelopes with hot wax, a flame caught Frances’ clothes on fire and she was burned beyond recovery; Longfellow fell into a deep depression after this event and threw himself into his work. On December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his eldest son Charley had been severely wounded four days earlier in the Civil War. Longfellow found himself staring down another Christmas season as a widower, with five children dependent on him and now one child on the brink of death. Outside, he heard the Christmas bells ringing, and in the midst of his pain and hope he penned this poem1. Here is a modern rendition 🙂

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”