This joyful Christmas carol first appeared in the 1739 anthology Hymns and Sacred Poems. The lyrics were written by Methodist movement leader , with music by added nearly a hundred years later. Mendelssohn’s melody, juxtaposed with another of his cantatas, was adapted to form today’s current music for Hark The Herald Angels Sing. Charles Wesley also wrote an Easter song, Christ The Lord Is Risen Today, which is sometimes paired with Mendelssohn’s Festgesang melodies to serve as a two-part collaboration—albeit one hundred years apart.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing performed live at The Helix in Dublin.

The song has undergone several other transformations, most notably, changing the opening verse from “Hark, how all the welkin rings” to the now eponymous “Hark, the herald angels sing.” This was likely done as “welkin,” the Middle English word for clouds or heavens, fell out of common usage and would have been confusing to a modern listener. Hark The Herald Angels Sing has traditionally served as the recessional song for the annual Nine Lessons and Carols Christmas service at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.


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!”