One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “Hark How All The Welkin Rings.” Unless you’re a good Wesleyan, you might be saying to yourself, “That’s not the right title?” The correct title is “Hark! How the Harold Angels Sing.” However, that is a later alteration by the Wesleys’ friend, George Whitefield. This actually started a fight between Charles and George. Charles Wesley hated when people changed his hymns without his permission, and in this case, disagreed with the theological implications of Whitefield’s changes.
I actually prefer Charles Wesley’s original version to the more commonly known version. As my wife and church members will tell you, I protest singing the revision, and if you stand beside me in church you will often hear me sing the wrong, but correct, words. I also detest the fact that it is in the United Methodist Hymnal over Wesley’s version. I believe we should put the two versions alongside one another in the hymnal so that we can see the differences.
One tradition my wife and I have done since we’ve been dating is that we read Luke 1 and 2 before opening presents. This year we will be reading the same old story, but we will also add in the singing of this beautiful hymn. I really encourage you to read this story and sing this hymn with your family before opening presents tonight or tomorrow morning. It helps us keep our attention on what truly matters: Christ becoming flesh and dwelling among us. May you enjoy your Christmas Day celebrations, and may Christ reign in your home.
Merry Christmas, and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!