Hark! The Herald Angels Sing


Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a Christmas hymn or 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 Mendelssohn in 1840, part of his cantata "Festgesang an die Künstler" ("Festival Song") to commemorate the printer Johann Gutenberg and 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 Gavotte of 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 ] ] .

Performance

In the UK at least "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" has popularly been performed in an arrangement that maintains the basic original William Hayman 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 3 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 in 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

References

External link

* 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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