The Daily Paine

How many of you can recall that wonderful old Christmas carol, “Hark! how all the welkin rings, glory to the King of Kings”?  The term “welkin” literally means the “vault of heaven makes a long noise.”  The idea is when the King (God) sends forth a pronouncement the “entire power of the King is revealed.” (Collins)  A person, who was a great preacher and orator [George Whitefield], but not as skilled in theology, as Charles Wesley changed the word to “angels,” and hence, we have “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”

          “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.’
           Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.'”

One of the best and most fondly remembered parts of my youth was going caroling.  The youth and young adults of the church which numbered 20-30 would go out every Christmas and sing carols.  We always went to the elderly and those who were shut-in, especially in the winter when it would be treacherous for them to venture out.  We would sing 4-6 carols, and always 2-3 verses of each, at each home and then travel in an old bus to the next place.  After we made our rounds we would end up either at the church or someone’s house for hot cocoa (not hot chocolate).

          “Christ, by highest heav’n adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord:
           Late in time behold Him come, Off-spring of a virgin’s womb.
           Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, Hail th’ incarnate Deity!
           Pleased as mann with men to appear, Jesus our Immanuel here.
           Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.'” 

Read the words carefully.  Mercy!  Look at the depth of the theology.  Take this carol and others of the past and compare them to most of the new songs.  Where is the theology?  Where is the doctrine?  People say that they do not understand theology, that it is too hard; or that doctrine is boring and legalistic.  Nonsense!  The reason they do not want or like doctrine is that it makes them responsible, and people just like to float along and not be responsible.  One cannot hear or sing this carol without realizing the doctrines that are being taught.

          “Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace, Hail the Sun 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.’

           Come, Desire of nations, come!  Fix in us Thy humble home:
           Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring seed, Bruise in us the serpent’s head;
           Adam’s likeness now efface, Stamp Thine image in its place:
           Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in Thy love.
           Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King.'”

I guess one cannot blame Wesley for disliking the change, especially without his permission.  In fact, he never sang the song again in his life.  The truth that rings from it cannot be hidden or denied.  But, there is one thing I would like for you to research, check out, and ponder.  Is there actually a place in Scripture that states that angels sing?