The sights and sounds of Christmas are here! They seem to arrive earlier each year. We can participate in some of the events and not realize the true meaning. Please join me in an effort to truly understand the carols we sing this year.
Charles Wesley wrote 6,500 hymns. Judged by its lyrics, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is considered one of his best hymns. “Joyful, all ye nations rise! Join the triumph of the skies! With angelic hosts proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’”
In verse one, two groups are mentioned in the story of Jesus’ birth: angels and shepherds. The Bible tells us that angels are spiritual beings who are able to appear and disappear. They are God’s messengers as seen in the announcement of Jesus’ birth.
Shepherds were average, everyday working folks that did nothing to deserve the honor of receiving the glorious news. We can identify with this group, for none of us deserve for Jesus to come and save us.
Wesley gives us a mini-course in Christology in verse two. “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 men to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel.” In just a few lines, we have four glorious truths about Christ – deity, virgin birth, incarnation, and humanity.
Finally, in verse three, Wesley says, “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.” Jesus brings light and life, healing, and victory over death. What a wonderful Savior!
Observe two words Wesley uses in this hymn – “Hark” and “Hail.” “Hark” means to pay attention, to listen. “Hail” means to acclaim, to acknowledge. May we pay attention to Christ, listening to what he would tell us, and give him the worship that is due him. Come with the heavenly host and let us adore him.
The words “Jesus is the reason for the season” may have become almost too familiar, but let’s not miss the profound meaning of that statement.