This much-loved carol was written by Charles Wesley in 1739. He begins the song with the word “Hark”, which means “Listen”. We are called to listen to the songs of the angels just as the shepherds had heard them on that first Christmas night.
The carol explains how peace comes when God and man are reconciled through the mediating work of Jesus Christ. All the nations are urged to rise and join the triumphant song of the angels, proclaiming, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
We sing praises in the second stanza that declares Christ as the everlasting Lord, adored by the highest heaven. When the set time has fully come, we behold Him come as the offspring of a virgin’s womb. It may be hard to understand the phrases, “Veiled in flesh the Godhead” and “hail the incarnate deity”, but they express the mystery of Christ, fully divine and fully human.
This Christmas carol then points us to hail Christ as the Prince of Peace, who gives us peace beyond all this world could offer. It is His righteousness that saves us. He comes to us like the rising of the sun, and brings with Him healing in every way. He brings true light and life because He himself is the Light and Life.
Christ is acknowledged as our personal Saviour in the fourth stanza. We are carrying the nature of God which has been marred due to the fall of humankind into sin. Our corrupt nature needs to be replaced by a new nature. Our hearts need to be conquered by the love of the Son of God, and to become His humble home. Significantly, Christ who is the woman’s offspring foretold in Genesis 3:15, not only crushes the serpent’s head at the cross, but also in our hearts: “Bruise in us the serpent’s head”.
Hence, this old nature is replaced by the new nature, which is the character of Christ. Christ is formed in each believing heart. This is achieved through the mystic union between Christ and us so that He dwells in our inner being in order to fill us with all the fullness of God.
Hark! This wonderful salvation began on Christmas Day, when the Son of God, our Saviour, was born in Bethlehem.
Christ, you are our Saviour. Emmanuel, God with us. Let us be your humble home as You dwell in us and form godly character in us.