This is the fourth in our series “Gospel in the Carols“. Today we take a look at Hark! the Herald Angels Sing. I’ve highlighted the distilled gospel.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled” 1
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 2
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!” 3

  1. With the birth of Jesus (who was believed to be not only the King of the Jews sent by the deity, but also the savior of all human beings from eternal damnation), peace was restored to Earth. According to Christian teachings, the Earth had not been at peace since the days of the Garden of Eden. The story of original sin holds that with Adam and Eve’s willingness to give in to temptation came the separation of God from his children: Jesus was born to restore that relationship back to original goodness!
  2. Pleased
 – If I’ve learned one thing from John Piper’s books, articles, and sermons, it is that God pursues His own joy. The incarnation was not a bit of drudgery that the Son was obligated to perform. He did it willingly, joyfully, for our sake and ultimately for His glory. The self-humiliation of God in the incarnation was merely a precursor to the self-humiliation of God on the cross. At the onset, the outset was understood, yet Christ still went through with it all.
    The author of Hebrews tells us in 12:2 that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him.” And Isaiah tells us in 53:10, according to the NASB, that “the Lord was pleased to crush Him.”
    As Man
 – “In the beginning was the Word… and the Word became flesh.” The eternal Son condescended to become man. Galatians 4:4-5 tells us “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Christ was born as a man at just the right time in history to complete the righteous requirements of the Law for us and thus make our adoption possible. Paul gives an even greater emphasis on the lowliness of Christ’s condescension in Romans 8:3-4, which says, “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us…” Jesus came in the likeness of sinful flesh.
    With Men to Dwell
 – The incarnation is made even more wonderful by the fact that the Son was pleased to dwell with men. The holiness of God requires that sin be punished. It was precisely for that reason that Christ came. But in order to bear our punishment, He chose to live among us—sinners wallowing in our own wretched filth. His indignation at sin was apparent from His interactions with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but He summarized His mission early on: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:7).
  3. This verse is just chocked full of the gospel!
    1. Light and life to all He brings! – John 10:10
    2. Born that men no more may die! – John 11:26
    3. Born to raise the sons of earth! – Ephesians 2:6
    4. Born to give them second birth! – 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

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