The Beauty of Christmas Music

Each year I look forward to hearing the sounds of Christmas, especially the traditional carols. They radiantly speak of the birth of Christ and focus our attention on Him.

Throughout the week, singing the words in my mind, brings joy to my heart and challenges me. Christmas music not only possesses beautiful melodies but powerful words that most writers envy. One song that plums the depth of who Christ is and why he came is “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

It is a traditional Christmas hymn written by Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley founder of the Methodist church, in 1739. A somber man, he requested slow and solemn music for his lyrics and thus “Hark the herald angels sing” was sung to a different tune initially. Over a hundred years later Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) composed a cantata in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. English musician William H. Cummings adapted Mendelssohn’s music to fit the lyrics of “Hark the herald angels sing” already written by Wesley.

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 the 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 Son 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!”

What this song entails can be summed up in three points:

  1. The Pardon of Christmas – Wesley begins with a call to peace between God and us; “Peace on earth and mercy mild – God and sinners reconciled.” The The Apostle Paul writes, Romans 5:8-10 (NASB) 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Christ came to this earth to save sinners; to issue a pardon to those who confess and believe.
  2. The Person of Christmas – Wesley then unveils who this child is; “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see – hail the incarnate Deity – Pleased as man with man to dwell – Jesus, our Emmanuel [God with us].” The Bible teaches Jesus is not just a good man or a good moral teacher, but God in human flesh. John 1:1, 14 (NASB) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ, the only person who has ever had two natures; fully God and fully man. Jesus is the “incarnate Deity.”
  3. The Purpose of Christmas – “Born that man no more may die – Born to raise the sons of earth – Born to give them second birth.” Wesley says the purpose for the birth of Jesus was so we could be given a second chance (second birth) and through belief we will live for eternity in a loving relationship with God. “Born to raise the sons of earth” direct us to the scriptures that emphasize Christ’s followers will someday receive a resurrected body (1 Cor. 15). The purpose of Christmas is the birth of the savior Jesus Christ: Luke 2:8-11 (NASB) 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” It is only through Jesus Christ we can experience forgiveness of sins and a restored relationship with God. We don’t come to God; He comes to us.

This Christmas you can experience peace and forgiveness through the God/man by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. This is the true meaning of Christmas…Jesus, our Emmanuel…God is with us.

Have a Merry Christmas…Steve

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