Hark the herald angels sing (incorrectly)

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Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
Anyone notice anything wrong here w/ this Westley hymm?

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 th' angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Christ, by highest heaven adored
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th' Incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Come, Desire of nations come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the Woman's conquering Seed,
Bruise in us the Serpent's head.
Adam's likeness, Lord efface:
Stamp Thy image in its place;
Second Adam, from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.
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.
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
OOOOO! OOOOO! Mr. Kotter! OOOOOO! OOOOOO!
[Mr. Kotter points--]
Okay Horseshack ---

Well, Mr. Kotter, I see as a potential problem:
"Light and life to all He brings..."

Is dat it?

Well, Horseshack, potentially yes - if he means light and life TO ALL he brings, well, theologically we have a problem. But if he means John 1:4, "In him was life, and the life was the light of men." then we might be OK.

Your thoughts?
 

alwaysreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
Well, I have a few guesses:

Is it "Offspring of a virgin's womb", because we all know its impossible for a virgin to have a child?

Or is it "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see," because we know that Jesus is really the first created being, the "Godhead" being merely borrowed from paganism?


(See, I told you its hard to get these JW beliefs out of my head!)
(And with all fairness to the JW's, they DO believe in the virgin birth.)

:bigsmile:
 

Scott Bushey

Puritanboard Commissioner
"Mild He lays His glory by"
Matt's wife Therese pointed this out to us last evening..........

When did Christ ever cease being God?
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
Paul: That is the exact verse I thought of. The hymn does not say he stopped being God.

Christ did undergo humiliation. The Larger Catechism summarizes:

Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ´s humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ´s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.

Note that the Catechism also expressly says that Christ emptied Himself of His glory.
 

Authorised

Puritan Board Freshman
Another good verse is John 17:5

5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
 

turmeric

Megerator
He does say some odd things - bruise in us the serpent's head? Is he entirely spiritualizing the Fall as in, it isn't literal?
 

alwaysreforming

Puritan Board Sophomore
A Beautiful Hymn

I don't know about the rest of you, but I find this to be one beautiful, God-glorifying, Christ-exalting hymn! :sing:

(this was my first time using the little singing guy face!)
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
This was one Christmas song my father refused to sing. He didn't like "Away in a Manger" either. But I just can't seem to remember the exact words he objected to. But he did change his mind about that later on.

As I recall, his objection was in the context of the church going from Exclusive Psalmody to singing of hymns in his younger days. He didn't object to that, but was in favour of that; he was really wary of songs that did not have precise Biblical content. So that may have been the objection; angels singing, the announcement mixed up with the praise, things added to what the angels actuall said, etc.

Anyways, he's OK now.
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Actually, the comment about angels not singing is right on target. I have never found any reference to them singing in Scripture. Humans, yes. Angels, no.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by JohnV
This was one Christmas song my father refused to sing. He didn't like "Away in a Manger" either. But I just can't seem to remember the exact words he objected to. But he did change his mind about that later on.

As I recall, his objection was in the context of the church going from Exclusive Psalmody to singing of hymns in his younger days. He didn't object to that, but was in favour of that; he was really wary of songs that did not have precise Biblical content. So that may have been the objection; angels singing, the announcement mixed up with the praise, things added to what the angels actuall said, etc.

That's where I'm coming from. I don't like inaccuracies such as claiming the angels sang when announcing Christ's birth or changing the actual words of the announcement. Especially when singing in the public worship of God. That's why it's worth noting that the psalms alone may be trusted to be fully accurate and fully appropriate in the worship of God. Moreover, it's worth noting that there are no psalms which emphasize or address the birth of the Messiah. The emphasis in God's Word is on his atoning death (Ps. 22.1-21) and his everlasting kingdom (Ps. 2; 22.22-31).
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Originally posted by LawrenceU
Actually, the comment about angels not singing is right on target. I have never found any reference to them singing in Scripture. Humans, yes. Angels, no.

But that doesn't change anything that Paul said; that is no reason to think that they didn't sing. Especially if one thinks of music as most natural in the praise of God the Creator, Redeemer, and Provider. If man can discover and use such a beautiful venue for praise, why shouldn't the angels also?

It could be that it is not described in Scripture as singing because singing is primarily and mostly saying something, or else its not really music. It could also be that their singing was so much higher than ours that it wouldn't be right to call it singing, as compared to the relative noise we make in the same effort. And it could be that they didn't sing at all.

I'll prefer not only that they sang, but that they were pretty good guitarist too, and could even have done it Bluegrass style. Well, that may be a bit much. But I still would prefer to think that they sang, and that it was lovlier than our best attempts, better even than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

But now I have to agree with Andrew. I would have been a lot more accurate in this short essay on music if I had just not said anything.
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
I really don't think they sing. I believe that is a gift for humans alone. Now, I confess that this is my opinion. Music is composed of metre, rhthym, and melody. Within those are major and minors, not just keys, but every aspect. To properly understand and compose music, real music, not the junk pumped out of the various pop mills, one must be familiar with both the majors and minors. When a human glorifies God in song it encapsulates the full spectrum of human emotion and experience. An angel cannot do that. They do not understand the fall and redemption as does a man, the majors and minors. Just my .02
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Lawrence:

Am I ever glad you brought this up. It's been on my mind for quite a while, watching those threads on music.
When a human glorifies God in song it encapsulates the full spectrum of human emotion and experience. An angel cannot do that. They do not understand the fall and redemption as does a man, the majors and minors.

I think that the fallenness of man inhibits that full range and spectrum, rather than being the forum for it. I would think that angels would know more than just majors and minors; they would know the modes a whole lot better than we do (after all, how much work have we as humans ever done in that area of music? ) as well as who know what we haven't yet delved into in music. I think that after we are received into glory that the music and expression will be more complete in the sinless state than it is now in the sinful one. There will be no more sorrow, no more tears, and that will have a more positive effect, not a negative one.

I may be wrong about this, though. But this is one area of music we haven't discussed. And I think it is important especially in the considerations we have had about Exclusive Psalmody.
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
He does say some odd things - bruise in us the serpent's head? Is he entirely spiritualizing the Fall as in, it isn't literal?

No, I think he is just applying an express biblical teaching. Paul says this to the Church at Rome: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Rom. 16:20. Christ works in and through the Church to crush Satan's head under our feet. That is all the hymn is saying, and in a way substantially the same as what Paul said.

Scott

[Edited on 12-14-2004 by Scott]
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I think it is clear that angels sing, and they don't just sing Psalms. From Revelation 5:11ff.


Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12In a loud voice they sang: "œWorthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "œTo him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" 14The four living creatures said, "œAmen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

[Edited on 12-14-2004 by Scott]
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Regardless of whether angels can sing, there is no Biblical basis for saying that they did sing to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem. Nor is there any Biblical basis for us to sing Christ-mass carols in public worship according to the Second Commandment and the RPW. Although we are instructed in the historicity and meaning of all of Christ's earthly life in the Scriptures, and we are commanded to observe the Lord's death (Lord's Supper) and His resurrection (Lord's Day), we are simply no where commanded to observe His birth. Here is a refresher on what actually occurred:


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2.8-14
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
I am not going to get into a discussion on exclusive psalmody. I am also not going to get into a discussion about whether it is ok for a lawfully ordained minister to preach about the mystery of the incarnation on December 24 or 25 (isn't there a thread doing that?), or whether the preaching of the Word should be forbidden on those days.

I was simply responding to a point that someone made that angels don't sing.

As a side note, you might also note that it was not just angels who were singing something other than psalms. It was "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them. . . " That would include people.

I know - I said I was not going to address exclusive psalmody, but I could not help myself! :)

Scott
 

Scott

Puritan Board Graduate
BTW, the hymn does not say it was the angels of the message to the shepherds who were singing. It was the angels of heaven. We do know that they sing and they do sing about the glory of Christ. So the song is consistent with what we know.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by Scott
BTW, the hymn does not say it was the angels of the message to the shepherds who were singing. It was the angels of heaven. We do know that they sing and they do sing about the glory of Christ. So the song is consistent with what we know.

I believe the hymn is purporting to reflect what the angels said to the shepherds at Bethlehem. I believe the hymn is consistent with Charles Wesley's religion but in many ways not with Biblical religion.

Having said my peace on that, I won't deny that the singing of this hymn in It's a Wonderful Life is one of the most moving moments in that remarkable classic movie.
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
Not to rain on everyones parade but that is not what the original text says. Here is the phrase in greek, ' legontes phone megale ( I forgot how to do the greek font in this forum.)

That first word is a present active participle of 'legw' which means 'I say'

[Edited on 15-12-2004 by LawrenceU]
 

Ianterrell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by Scott
I am not going to get into a discussion on exclusive psalmody. I am also not going to get into a discussion about whether it is ok for a lawfully ordained minister to preach about the mystery of the incarnation on December 24 or 25 (isn't there a thread doing that?), or whether the preaching of the Word should be forbidden on those days.

I was simply responding to a point that someone made that angels don't sing.

As a side note, you might also note that it was not just angels who were singing something other than psalms. It was "every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them. . . " That would include people.

I know - I said I was not going to address exclusive psalmody, but I could not help myself! :)

Scott


Well you can't have it both ways. Angel worship is no model for worship in the church. In Revelation sacrifices of incense are made to El Shaddai, there are lampstands, a congregation comprised of all the creatures on the planet earth, heck the THRONE OF GOD is there! Revelation is a picture book, we do not derive our doctrine of worship from prophectic pictures.

Only lazy exegesis would make this into a notable proof text against Exclusive Psalmody. :down:

[Edited on 15-12-2004 by Ianterrell]
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
This was one Christmas song my father refused to sing. He didn't like "Away in a Manger" either. But I just can't seem to remember the exact words he objected to. But he did change his mind about that later on.
Perhaps it was the phrase, no crying He makes. I can't imagine that the Lord Jesus didn't cry as a baby, but stranger things (to be sure) have been ascribed to Him.

Blessings,
DTK
 
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