We were discussing a Christmas hymn in our community group the other day. Many have studied the theology in the hymns before, but a few have not. A few days ago, I wrote about Joy to the World. Today, let’s look at the hymn “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The hymn’s stanzas declare the nature of God. It is also a poignant expression of our deep longing for Him. And, of course, the hymn expresses the joyous relationship we share with our Heavenly Father.
The Nature of God
The hymn begins with the line, “Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King.” This call invites us to witness the revelation of God’s divine nature. The hymn echoes the biblical truth found in Isaiah 9:6-7 (NET).
For a child has been born to us,Isaiah 9:6-7 NET
a son has been given to us.
He shoulders responsibility
and is called
Prince of Peace.
His dominion will be vast,
and he will bring immeasurable prosperity.
He will rule on David’s throne
and over David’s kingdom,
establishing it and strengthening it
by promoting justice and fairness,
from this time forward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will accomplish this.
As we sing these words, we are reminded that the baby born in Bethlehem is not just an ordinary child. Instead, He is the Mighty God Himself, who came down to dwell among us. The hymn invites us to reflect on the incarnation, where the infinite God took on finite flesh. In this, He demonstrates His incomprehensible love for humanity.
As our country doesn’t have a monarchy, it can be challenging to understand the concept of Kingship. Our leanings toward democracy, independence, and having our own way inhibit our understanding of His authority and sovereignty. However, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, representing His supremacy over all spiritual and earthly realms. The importance of Jesus’ kingship lies in His rule, characterized by love, justice, and mercy. Unlike earthly kings, who may fall short, Jesus’ kingship offers a leadership model untainted by human flaws. His sovereignty is grounded in sacrificial love, demonstrated by His death on the cross for the salvation of humanity. And so we celebrate the coming of this perfect King!
Expressing Longing for God
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” echoes our yearning for God found in Scripture. The lyrics, “Veiled in flesh, the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity,” remind us that God was hidden in human flesh. We know who God is because Jesus came – He is God in flesh!
The term “incarnation” in Christianity means that Jesus, fully God, was joined to human flesh, becoming fully man. Although the word “incarnation” isn’t in the New Testament, the concept appears in many places.
Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory—the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.John 1:14 NET
Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.Hebrews 2:14 NLT
We yearn to walk with Him in the cool of the evening like Adam and Eve, walk with Him on the Emmaus Road, or listen intently to His stories as He walked from town to town. Our God took on flesh to pitch His tent with us, to dwell with us. And being made like us, He experienced all the same temptations, without sin, and paid the penalty for our sin. He made us right with God because He was our true brother.
Conveying Joy in Relationship with God:
“Hark the Herald Angels Sing” radiates joy as it unfolds the narrative of salvation. The words, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled,” resound with the biblical message of redemption in Romans 5:10.
“When we were enemies, you see, we were reconciled to God through the death of his son; if that’s so, how much more, having already been reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”Romans 5:10 NTFE
The hymn celebrates the profound joy that springs from the knowledge that, through Christ, we are right with God, His beloved children. It calls us to embrace the Christmas season not merely as a time of festivity but as a reminder of the immeasurable joy in our relationship with the newborn King.
As we sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” this Christmas, let us reflect on God’s divine nature, the fulfillment of our longing for Him, and the uncontainable joy that flows from a restored relationship with our Savior. May the melodies of this hymn resound in our hearts, leading us to a deeper understanding of the profound love God has bestowed upon us through the gift of His Son.