- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a
Christmas hymnor carol written by Charles Wesley, the brother of John Wesley. It first appeared in "Hymns and Sacred Poems" in 1739. The original opening couplet was "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to the King of Kings". The version known today is the result of alterations by various hands, most notably George Whitfield, Wesley's co-worker, who changed the opening couplet to the familiar one we know today.
One of the tunes originally used for the carol was also used as a tune for "
Amazing Grace".fact|date=July 2008 Wesley himself, however, envisaged his lyrics sung to the same tune as his Easter hymn, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."fact|date=July 2008
The tune that is now almost always used for this carol is based on a chorus composed by
Felix Mendelssohnin 1840, part of his cantata" Festgesang an die Künstler" ("Festival Song") to commemorate the printer Johann Gutenbergand the invention of his printing press. The cantata was first presented at the great festival held at Leipzig. "Festgesang"'s second chorus, "Vaterland, in deinem Gauen", was adapted in 1855 by William Hayman Cummings. Mendelssohn said of the song that it could be used with many different choruses but that it should not be used for sacred music. This may be because the melodic and harmonic structure of the tune are similar to the Gavotteof Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 4; indeed Mendelssohn (who has always been linked with the music of Bach) may simply have adapted Bach's music for his chorus, as was proposed by Nigel Poole with his (transposed) arrangement of the Gavotte as "Bach's Christmas Carol" [ [http://www.websights.org/bachcarol/ Bach's Carol ] ] .
In the UK at least "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" has popularly been performed in an arrangement that maintains the basic original
William Hayman Cummingsharmonisation of the Mendelssohn tune for the first two verses but adds a soprano descantand a last verse harmonisationfor the organ in verse 3 by Sir David Willcocks. This arrangement was first published in 1961 by Oxford University Pressin the first book of the Carols for Choirsseries.
For many years it has served as the
recessionalhymn of the annual Service of Nine Lessons and Carolsin King's College Chapel, Cambridge. [cite web|url=http://www.kings.cam.ac.uk/chapel/ninelessons/index.html|title=Nine Lessons and Carols|publisher= King's College, Cambridge|accessdate=2007-10-25 Includes orders of service going back to 1997.]
In popular culture
A Charlie Brown Christmas" - book version altered "Offspring of a Virgin's womb" by "Finding here his humble home"fact|date=August 2008
Bee Gees- as part of a medley with Silent Nightfact|date=August 2008
* Free sheet music for [http://cantorion.org/music/431/Hark%21%20The%20Herald%20Angels%20Sing voice] and [http://cantorion.org/music/148/Hark%21%20The%20Herald%20Angels%20Sing SATB] from "Cantorion.org"
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