Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
|"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"|
Worship of the Shepherds (Bronzino)
|Writer(s)||Charles Wesley, adapted by George Whitefield and others|
|Composer(s)||Felix Mendelssohn, adapted by William H. Cummings|
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a Christmas carol that first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and Sacred Poems, having been written by Charles Wesley. Wesley had requested and received slow and solemn music for his lyrics, not the joyful tune expected today. Moreover, Wesley's original opening couplet is "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings".
The popular version is the result of alterations by various hands, notably by Wesley's co-worker George Whitefield who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one, and by Felix Mendelssohn. In 1840—a hundred years after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems—Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, and it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that propels the carol known today.
The original hymn was composed as a "Hymn for Christmas-Day" by Charles Wesley, included in the 1739 John Wesley collection Hymns and Sacred Poems. Wesley's original hymn began with the opening line "Hark how all the Welkin rings". This was changed to the familiar "Hark! the Herald Angels sing" by George Whitefield in his 1754 Collection of hymns for social worship. A second change was made in the 1782 publication of the Tate and Brady New Version of the Psalms of David. In this work, Whitefield's adaptation of Wesley's hymn appears, with the repetition of the opening line "Hark! the Herald Angels sing/ Glory to the newborn king" at the end of each stanza, as it is commonly sung today.
|"Hymn for Christmas-Day" (Charles Wesley, 1739)||Adaptation by George Whitefield (1758)||Carols for Choirs (1961)|
HARK how all the Welkin rings
HARK! the Herald Angels sing
Hark! The herald-angels sing
CHRIST, by highest Heav'n ador'd,
Christ by highest Heav'n ador'd,
Christ, by highest heaven adored
Hail the Heav'nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Heav'n-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace!
Come, Desire of Nations, come,
Come, Desire of Nations, come,
Adam's Likeness, LORD, efface,
Adam's Likeness now efface,
Performed by the U.S. Army Band Chorus
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In 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted Felix Mendelssohn's secular music from Festgesang to fit the lyrics of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" written by Charles Wesley. Wesley envisaged the song being sung to the same tune as his Easter song "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today", and in some hymnals that tune is included for "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" along with the more popular Mendelssohn-Cummings tune.
In the UK, "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" has popularly been performed in an arrangement that maintains the basic original William H. Cummings harmonisation of the Mendelssohn tune for the first two verses, but adds a soprano descant and a last verse harmonisation for the organ in verse three by Sir David Willcocks. This arrangement was first published in 1961 by Oxford University Press in the first book of the Carols for Choirs series. For many years it has served as the recessional hymn of the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College Chapel, Cambridge.
An uncommon arrangement of the hymn to the tune "See, the Conqu'ring hero comes" from Handel's Judas Maccabaeus, normally associated with the hymn "Thine Be the Glory", is traditionally used as the recessional hymn of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. This is broadcast live each year on Christmas Eve on RTÉ Radio 1. The usual (first) three verses are divided into six verses, each with chorus. The arrangement features a brass fanfare with drums in addition to the cathedral organ, and takes about seven and a half minutes to sing. The Victorian organist W. H. Jude, in his day a popular composer, also composed a new setting of the work, published in his Music and the Higher Life.
- Columbia Male Quartet (1904 - First Recording)
- Henry Burr (1907 - released in 1908)
- Blackwood Bros. Quartet (1946)
- Ames Brothers (1950)
- The Chuck Wagon Gang (1954 - Joy to the World)
- The Voices of Walter Schumann (1955 - The Voices of Christmas)
- Mario Lanza (1956 - Lanza Sings Christmas Carols)
- Frank Sinatra (1957 - A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra)
- The Choristers (1958 - from the EP Christmas Carols)
- Dorothy Collins (1958 - Won't You Spend Christmas With Me)
(with Nathan Van Cleave & his Orchestra)
- Tennessee Ernie Ford (1958 - The Star Carol)
- Pat Boone (1959 - White Christmas)
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir (1959 - The Spirit of Christmas)
- Paul Anka (1960 - It's Christmas Everywhere)
- Nat King Cole (1960 - The Magic of Christmas)
- Mahalia Jackson (1962 - Silent Night: Songs For Christmas)
- Vince Guaraldi Trio (1965 - A Charlie Brown Christmas)
- Nora Aunor (1973 - Season's Greetings from Nora Aunor)
- Amy Grant (1983 - A Christmas Album)
- Marilyn McCoo (1994 - White Christmas)
- Ken Tamplin (1997 - The Colors of Christmas)
- Jewel (1999 - Joy: A Holiday Collection)
- Anne Murray (2001 - What a Wonderful Christmas)
- Chris Botti (2002 - December)
- Brenda Holloway (2007)
(Appears on the Various Artists album Have Yourself a Voices Navidad Little Christmas)
- Erik Santos (2007 - All I Want This Christmas)
(as "Prologue: Hark The Herald Angels Sing")
- Al Jarreau (2008 - Christmas)
- LeToya Luckett (2008)
(from Nat King Cole's tribute album Sounds of the Season)
(in a Virtual duet with the Nat King Cole recording)
- Weezer (2008 - Christmas with Weezer)
- Bob Dylan (2009 - Christmas in the Heart)
- Chris Tomlin (2009 - Glory in the Highest: Christmas Songs of Worship)
- Matt Maher (2011)
(from the Various Artists album Wow Christmas 2011)
- Jeremy Camp (2012 - Christmas: God with Us)
- Susan Boyle (2013 - Home for Christmas)
- Building 429 (2013)
(from the Various Artists album WOW Christmas: 30 Top Christian Artists and Holiday Songs)
- Pentatonix (2014 - That's Christmas to Me)
- "Hymn Texts and Tunes". Evangelical Lutheran Hymnary Handbook. Bethany Lutheran College. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
- Hymns and sacred poems, Bristol, 1743, p. 142.
- Hark! the Herald Angels Sing at Hymns and Carols of Christmas
- Watson, J. R. (1997). The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. 205–229. ISBN 0198267622.
- Whitefield, George (1754). A Collection of hymns for social worship. London: William Strahan.
- Tate, Nahum and Nicholas Brady (1782). A new version of the Psalms of David: fitted to the tunes used in churches. Cambridge: J. Archdeacon.
- John and Charles Wesley, Hymns and Sacred Poems (London: William Strahan, 1739)
- A Collection of Hymns for Social Worship, More Particularly Designed for the Use of the Tabernacle and Chapel Congregations in London (London: William Straham, 1758)
- David Willcocks & Reginald Jacques (ed) Carols for Choirs (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1961), see A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols 2015, King's College Cambridge, URL accessed 11 December 2015
- This line is a paraphrase of Malachi 4:2 ("But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall."), but is often changed to "Son of righteousness"
- Hark the Herald Angels Sing carols.org.uk
- "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". SongFacts.
- Many hymnals assign the name MENDELSSOHN to the Mendelssohn-Cummings tune. "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today" is commonly sung to tune WORGAN (1741) from John Walsh's (1695–1736) Lyra Davidica (1708) as arranged by John Arnold (1720–1792) in his Compleat Psalmodist (1741). "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" is frequently, and especially in the United States, matched to tune HYFRYDOL by Rowland H. Prichard as arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams; the popularity of HYFRYDOL for other hymns, notably "Alleluia! Sing to Jesus" (words by William Chatterton Dix), has sustained the identification of "Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus" with tune SUSSEX (also by Williams, as adapted from an English folk melody), especially in the United Kingdom and British Commonwealth.
- Breed, David (1934). The History and Use Hymns and Hymn-Tunes. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company. Retrieved 2013-12-25.
- "Nine Lessons and Carols". King's College, Cambridge. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
- The Musical Times, March 1944
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, National Library of Australia.
- Columbia Male Quartet. "Hark The Herald Angels Sing". Second Hand Songs. July 1904. https://secondhandsongs.com/performance/232418
- Jackson, Mahalia. "Silent Night-Songs for Christmas (Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo)". Columbia. 1962. https://www.discogs.com/Mahalia-Jackson-Silent-Night-Songs-For-Christmas/release/3571382
- Nora Aunor Cover of Felix Mendelssohn's "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". WhoSampled.com. http://www.whosampled.com/cover/451430/Nora-Aunor-Hark!-The-Herald-Angels-Sing-Felix-Mendelssohn-Hark!-The-Herald-Angels-Sing/
- McCoo, Marilyn. "White Christmas". Diadem. 1994. http://www.allmusic.com/album/white-christmas-mw0000060903
- Tamplin, Ken. "The Colors of Christmas (CD, Album)". CeeM Records. 1997. https://www.discogs.com/Ken-Tamplin-The-Colors-Of-Christmas/release/4467612
- Various Artists. "Have Yourself a Voices Navidad Little Christmas". Kings Road. 28 August 2007. http://www.allmusic.com/album/have-yourself-a-voices-navidad-little-christmas-mw0001595534
- Santos, Erik. "All I Want This Christmas". Star. 2007. http://www.allmusic.com/album/all-i-want-this-christmas-mw0001256380
- Jarreau, Al. "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". YouTube: Al Jarreau-Topic. 26 November 2014. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JsZ7qC8ivVY
- Cole, Nat King. "Sounds of The Season...(CD, Compilation, Target Exclusive)". EMI Music Special Markets. 2008. https://www.discogs.com/Nat-King-Cole-Sounds-Of-The-Season-The-Nat-King-Cole-Holiday-Collection/release/7493972
- Camp, Jeremy. "Christmas: God with Us". BEC Recordings. 25 September 2012. http://www.allmusic.com/album/christmas-god-with-us-mw0002416129
- Various Artists. "Wow Christmas: 30 Top Christian Artists and Holiday Songs". Word Entertainment. 24 September 2013. http://www.allmusic.com/album/wow-christmas-30-top-christian-artists-and-holiday-songs-mw0002562363
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