Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…” Luke 2:14
Hark! The herald angels sing, (the next three lines are quoted from the Bible)
“Glory to the new-born King;
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”
Using Luke 2 as a reference point, this traditional hymn was written in 1739. Theologian, Charles Wesley originally wrote it as “Hark how all the welkin rings!” Welkin is an archaic English term referring to the sky or the firmament of the heavens. George Whitefield, a preacher and Wesley’s friend, thankfully made the appropriate changes. Wesley scholar, Dr. Ted Campbell wrote, “I have wondered if anybody but Charles knew what a welkin was supposed to be.”
As I sing this precious carol tonight, I want to consider the words and their meaning. I want to proclaim what the angels said and hold fast to the hope for peace on earth, mercy for all, and reconciliation between myself, a sinner, and my God.
Affirmation: Peace on earth!
Coaching question: What is your favorite carol? What does it mean to you?
2 thoughts on “Hark, a Welkin Rings!”
I love to know the history of any of the hymns we sing. I always check the bottom of the page in the hymnal to see the author and the year of each song. I have a small book of devotions titled “52 Hymn Story Devotions” by Lucy Neeley Adams that I have had for ever. I use it often when I’m called upon to lead a devotion in a group. Hopefully people don’t remember that I had used the book some time in the past. And my favorite Carol? I guess it would be Silent Night because it is the one carol always sung at the end of Christmas Eve services. Written in 1818 by Joseph Mohr a priest in Austria and first sung using a guitar. A Blessed Christmas to you and yours.
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I was surprised to learn that many of our hymns and carols have been significantly changed from the original over the years. I too like the history. I’m going to look up your book and see if it’s still around. Thanks.
My favorite is Joy to the World. I do love Silent Night also.
Christmas blessings to you as well.