In 1739, Charles Wesley wrote the lyrics to a song he called, “Hark How All the Welkin Ring Glory to the King of Kings.” A century later, Felix Mendelssohn wrote the second chorus of a cantata commemorating John Gutenberg’s invention of printing.
Wesley intended his lyrics for slow, solemn music. Mendelssohn intended his music for non-religious, secular use. But neither genius nor genre could prevent the work of these two richly talented men from coming together to herald the good news!
In 1855, another musician, William Cummings, brought the work of Wesley and Mendelssohn together in spite of what they had wanted. He took Wesley’s words and Mendelssohn’s tune and combined them as “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
Isn’t that the Christmas story in a nutshell? God in Christ is always doing something that we could never imagine! Sometimes, even our “No way!” can become “Yes, his way” in Christ.
We appreciate you, Mr. Wesley, Herr Mendelsohn and Billy Cummings, for the beauty of the gospel set to music! But we thank the Father most of all for revealing to us his Son! Let the power and message of the music ring. “Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel!”
Author: Steve Schantz