Faithlife Sermons

Sermon Tone Analysis

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History of the Hymn
It was written by Charles Wesley, who was an English Methodist leader and hymn writer.
Wesley wrote over 6,000 hymns, more than any other male writer.
His goal in writing hymns was to teach the poor and illiterate sound doctrine.
His brother, John Wesley, a famous theologian and founder of Methodism, said that Charles’ hymnal was the best theological book in existence.
Wesley, inspired by the sounds of London church bells while walking to church on Christmas Day, wrote the “Hark” poem about a year after his conversion to be read on Christmas Day.
The poem first appeared in Hymns and Sacred Poems in 1739 with the opening line of “Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings.”
In 1753, George Whitefield, a student and eventual colleague of Wesley’s, adapted the poem into the song we now know today.
In the 1850s the words of hymn were paired with music and it was printed in a collection of hymns.
For the last 200 years Christians have sang “Hark!
The Herald Angels Sing”, boldly declaring the birth of Jesus and the deep significance of Him coming into the world.
I think Charles Wesley was struck by the significance of the Christmas story when he heard those church bells
Struck with just how important the birth of Jesus was.
We can grasp just how significant it was, and still is, when we read of Zechariah and Elizabeth in , the parents of John the Baptist.
The World-altering significance of the birth of Christ
lk 1 5-
Zechariah was a priest in one of 24 division of priest.
Priests would serve in the temple throughout the year.
Both Zech and Elizabeth were “righteous before God”, meaning they had a deep love for and obedience to God; they loved Him and followed His ways.
But they were without children because Elizabeth was barren, unable to conceive.
They were now older too so their longing for children had grown hopeless.
Having children, especially sons, was deeply important in this time, so Zech and Elizabeth had probably spent many years praying and weeping over their inability to conceive.
Even in their obedience and deep faith in God, there was brokenness in their lives, and a reason for mourning.
lk 1 8-
Luke tells us Zech was chosen by lot to go into the holy place inside the temple to clean and restore the incense.
About 18,000 priests served the temple so this was an opportunity that would most likely only come once for Zechariah.
While he is was in the holy place, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said:
lk 1 13
“Your prayer has been heard” likely is referring to the prayer Zechariah and Elizabeth had been praying for years, for the birth of a son.
But it could also refer to the prayer Jewish families would had often prayed, for the Messiah to come.
The Angel tells Zech that the birth of his son will bring them “joy and gladness”.
He will “turn many…to the Lord their God” as he makes ready for the Lord “a people prepared.”
God is breaking restoration to a broken world through the broken story of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
This is at the heart of the message of Christmas and it is captured in the powerful message of our song today.
The Message of the Song
Hark!
The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Hark!
The herald Angel sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!”
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies With angelic host proclaim “Christ is born in Bethlehem”
With angelic host proclaim “Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Joyful, all ye nations rise, join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim “Christ is born in Bethlehem”
With angelic host proclaim “Christ is born in Bethlehem”
The birth of Christ unlocks the possibility of peace and reconciliation to our broken world.
Jesus brings peace and reconciliation to our broken world.
“Hark” is an old English word meaning “listen!”
The angels are announcing good news, the greatest news ever heard.
“Glory to the NEWBORN King!”
What has happened in Bethlehem is GAME CHANGING.
LISTEN!!
The birth of this King brings the possibility for peace.
He is not talking about the absence of war alone.
Peace = shalom or wholeness, the absences of Chaos.
Think back to the Angel Gaberial speaking to Zechariah.
col 1
“Your prayer had been answered!”
What we deeply long for (and maybe we don’t even realize we long for) has been unlocked, inaugurated, initiated...
The one who created everything has been born into the world and will begin to make all things new, right, whole---Shalom---PEACE
The birth of this King brings the possibility for reconciliation.
Solomon says in we all have eternity in our hearts.
He means we all know we are broken in some way.
We try all kinds of methods; religion, self-help, exercise, work, success, money, relationship, stuff… all to grasp at that eternity
But in the birth of Christ the possibility of what we REALLY long for is unlocked.
In the baby in the manger is the only chance we have at reconciliation.
It is the reason the Angel’s were singing
It is the reason we sing this powerful song
It is the reason we have hope!
2) A proclamation of the incarnation
Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb
Christ, the everlasting Lord Late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb
Late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel
Deity Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel
The birth of Christ miraculously unites God and man.
Here the hymn strongly proclaims the incarnation of Jesus.
This is a doctrine that is so essential, yet so often misunderstood in the church.
It is a wonderful mystery that is difficult to grasp, but extraordinary nonetheless.
Jesus
phil 2 5-
God in Heaven, the second person in the trinity, who was fully and completely God, took on human flesh and lived among us.
This is profound for several reasons:
God became man-
As the Philippians passage said Jesus was in the “form of God” HE WAS, in heaven, all powerful, sufficient, Holy, PERFECT...
But “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped”- Jesus left heaven, and His purpose was humble and sacrificial.
God took on flesh-
Jesus took on the aches and pains of flesh
He experiences the physical and emotional joys and pains we all experience.
He lived among us
He was hurt, rejected, lied to, and abused
He felt the pain of loss and the joy of friendship
It all had a purpose
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