Monday 7 December 2015

Charles Wesley's Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Hark the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled.

Charles Wesley, the brother of the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, wrote the lyrics for Hark, How All the Welkin Rings, Glory to the King of Kings in 1739.  In 1753, Charles' colleague, George Whitefield changed the lyrics, changed the title and had it published in Hymns and Sacred Poems.  In 1840, the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn composed the music for the hymn as part of a cantata to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Gutenberg Printing Press.  Five years later, organist Dr. William Cummings used Mendelssohn's melody to accompany Wesley's lyrics.  Wesley intended the hymn to be slow and solemn while Mendelssohn made it upbeat.  The current version is somewhere in between the two versions.  The hymn is always included in the Nine Lessons and Carols Service in Cambridge, England each year.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sheila, for the post on Charles Wesley. I didn't know about the original tempo Charles intended. Interesting history. If you interest, I have recently published a book about someone influenced by George Whitefield, famed British itinerant preacher, Francis Asbury. The Asbury Triptych Series is a trilogy which opens with the book, Black Country, detailing the early preaching circuits in England of Francis Asbury. The book includes much about John Wesley, Charles Wesley, George Whitefield and Francis Asbury. The website which includes numerous articles on these amazing men of God is Enjoy the articles.