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Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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A perennial favorite carol has been “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” My love for this song goes all the way back to childhood--watching Charlie Brown and the gang singing the carol, gathered around that magical scrawny little tree. (“I never thought it was such a bad little tree!”)

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 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 the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Immanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
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
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

I rotate through favorite Christmas carols quite frequently. It seems like every year a lyric in a familiar Christmas carol will strike me in new ways and suddenly I have a new favorite. A perennial favorite, though, has been “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” My love for this song goes all the way back to childhood--watching Charlie Brown and the gang singing the carol, gathered around that magical scrawny little tree. (“I never thought it was such a bad little tree!”)

Today my love for this carol goes a little deeper. There are rich pictures of God’s plan of redemption in this song. It’s evident in the opening lines, as the angels, who have from eternity past been gathered around a heavenly throne singing praise to their King, now sing a new song--a song of “glory to a newborn King.” They sing of God's incredible earthly mission: bringing peace and mercy, and reconciling his creation to their Creator.

The angels marvel as the One that they adore leaves his heavenly throne and comes down to earth. They must be even more astonished as they realize that not only is Jesus taking on the flesh of his creation and dwelling with them, but he is becoming one of the least of them--an unassuming baby born to simple parents in a simple place.

His mission is so great that it’s almost incomprehensible. This simple baby will bring light and life and healing to all mankind. At the moment of his birth, his course is set as he moves toward the cross, toward death--the death that will ensure that we live. He moves toward resurrection - the resurrection that promises that we will be raised with him, that he will give us a new life.

But let’s go back to that first verse of this carol. Because as the angels sing, they invite us to join in their song.

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!”

Our invitation today is to join in the “triumph of the skies,” to proclaim with them the good news of the birth of Christ, and to tell the story of His mission of peace and reconciliation. In a world that is so broken, fractured, and divided, this story is real and relevant. This is the hope that we have to offer those around us--the hope of a Prince of Peace who came to be near to us and to bring us near to Him. May we join with the angelic host in proclaiming the birth of our King and the hope of His life, death, and resurrection. May we throw back our heads in joyful song like Charlie Brown and Linus and the rest (you can see the picture, can’t you?) and sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”