Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Song: Felix Mendelsohn Lyrics: Charles Wesley

The hymn Hark the Herald Angels Sing was composed in 1739 by one of the founders of the Methodist Church, George Wesley. The hymn was intended as a Christmas hymn and was to be performed with a calm and solemn melody that Wesley had ordered. The lyrics that are most often sung today have undergone some changes from the original lyrics that Wesley wrote. The first changes were made by Wesley's member of the Methodist Church, George Whitefield in 1753, but since then several changes have been made.

From left: Wesley, Whitefield, Cummings and Mendelsohn.The tune that was originally to accompany the lyrics is long forgotten. Instead, the second part of the candata Festgesang written by Felix Mendelsohn in 1840 is performed with the lyrics. In 1855 William H Cummings adapted Mendelsohn's tune and it is the version we know with the lyrics today.

The text is based on the Gospel of Luke, chapter 2, which describes the coming of Christ. The text begins with the word Hark, which at that time was a kind of opening word to get the attention of those who were to listen. The opening sentence of the English text would therefore mean: "Listen to the song of the angels". When I was writing and learning to play the arrangement that accompanies this article, I started looking for Icelandic lyrics instead of the English text. Found none so I askes the music teacher in the school I work in if he knew any Icelandic lyrics for the song.Click on an image for notes, chords and textClick on the image for notes, chords and text.The music teacher remembered lyrics in Icelandic by Ingólfur Jónsson from Prestbakki, Friður, friður frelsarans.


The English text

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!"

Christ by highest Heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! the herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the Heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son 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!"

Charles Wesley

Icelandic verses

Friður, friður frelsarans,
finni leið til sérhvers manns.
Yfir höf og yfir lönd
almáttug nær drottins hönd.
Hans er lífið, hans er sól,
hann á okkar björtu jól.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.

Friður, friður fögur jól,
frelsarinn er vörn og skjól.
Verum örugg, verum trú,
verum glöð á jólum nú.
Veitum öðrum von og yl
vermum allt sem finnur til.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.

Friður sé um fold og haf
friðarboðskap Jesús gaf.
Fátækur hann fæddur var,
faðir ljóssins þó hann var.
Ljóssins faðir, ljós þín skær
lýsi öllum nær og fjær.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.
Börn við erum börnin smá,
börn, sem Drottinn vakir hjá.

Ingólfur Jónsson from Prestbakki