Tuesday, December 9, 2014

In the Forgotten Verses of a Beloved Christmas Song

Spending time with hymn texts can expand our spirituality incredibly.

There is no doubt that out of Charles Wesley's thousands of hymn texts, the most beloved one today is "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Did you know our present version fails to capture some of his most beautiful and poetic thoughts on the spiritual formation of the human heart, in response to the miracle of the incarnation? The last few verses were not included in the adaptation we sing today to Mendelsohn's tune.

Here is Wesley's original text of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Spend some time with the “forgotten” verses:

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings.
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”

Christ, by highest Heaven ador’d,
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 appear,
Jesus! Our Immanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly 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 man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner Man:
O! to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

God of the incarnation, fix your humble home in my heart. Bruise the serpent's head in my soul, bringing light to my darkness. Restore my nature and bring me into mystical union with you. Imprint the image of Christ on my very being and restore me in love. Form your very self in my believing heart. In Christ, Amen.

Thank you, Charles, for leading me in prayer.