Good tidings of great joy it is! When Charles Wesley became a Christian, he could not stop writing hymns. Each one he wrote, he packed with doctrine, with the words exhibiting strength and sensitivity, beauty and theological brawn. He didn't want any one tinkering with any of his 6,000 hymns. In a hymnal of his he wrote:
"I beg leave to mention a thought which has been long upon my mind, and which I
should long ago hae inserted in the public papers, had I not been unwilling to
stir up a nest of hornets...I must beg two favors: either to let them (my hymns)
stand just as they are, to take things for better or worse, or to add the
true reading in the margin, or at the bottom of the page, that we may no longer
be accountable either for the nonsense or for the doggerel of other men."
And this particular hymn is indeed beautiful, strong, and packed with doctrine. I'm thankful that although George Whitefield, in 1753, changed the first verse slightly, he left the Truth of our Saviour in the words. And now, this hymn is a Christmas favorite! Originally it read, "Hark, how all the welkin rings, 'Glory to the King of Kings.'" Welkin was an old English term for 'the vault of heaven....oh friends. How the vault of heaven must have rung so loudly when our Saviour was born!
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 angelic hosts proclaim, "Christ is born in Bethlehem!"
Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold He come, offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus as Emmanuel.
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!"