The Christmas Carol That Needed A Little Help
Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley, was an early leader in the Methodist Church. It has been reported that in his lifetime, he wrote over 6,000 hymns in order to teach the poor and illiterate sound doctrine. One Christmas day, as he walked to church, he was inspired by the sounds of the London church bells to write a new Christmas Carol. It was then that he quickly penned the lyrics to “Hark, How All the Welkin Rings.”
Charles Wesley’s new carol first appeared in 1739 in Hymns and Sacred Songs. It was intended to be sung to EASTER HYMN, the tune of Christ the Lord is Risen Today.
Here are the first two verses of the original song:
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 today!”
Yeah, kind of different, huh?
A few years later, George Whitefield, a student turned colleague turned rival of John and Charles Wesley, adapted the lyrics into the version we now sing. Whitefield selected a new tune titled MENDELSSOHN and He published the newly revised version in 1757 under its new title Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Although Whitefield rarely gets credit for the changes, his contributions to the carol helped leave a wonderfully revised version the whole world seems to prefer.
Listen to both versions below and judge for yourself.
Click here to hear Hark! The Herald Angels Sing performed by Nat King Cole
Click here to hear Hark, How All the Welkin Rings performed by the Boys of Worcester Cathedral Choir.
*Image courtesy of Chad Madden and Unsplash