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Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

VIDEO: Carols of Christmas - Part IV

  • Jim Daly
    Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2011 Dec 27
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Posted by Jim_Daly Dec 22, 2011




History isn’t just dry dates and statistics. History is human. History can be a great source of strength and affirmation, an aide to navigation, especially in dark and dangerous times. And the words and music we love that have stood the test of time mean still more when we know their story.

-       David McCullough, American historian and author


Hardly has a Christmas hymn undergone so many changes to get from what was originally written, to what we sing today. "Hark" was first written by Charles Wesley who was said to have been inspired by the joyous sounds of London church bells heard during a walk to church on Christmas Day. It was published in his brother John's collection of Hymns and Sacred Poems, 2 vols.

Charles' original text (Hark! How All The Welkin Rings, which consisted of 10 four-line verses) was rewritten by George Whitefield (1714-1770) in 1753 (changing the first two lines), and by Reverend Martin Madan (1726-1790) in 1760 (changing lines seven and eight). Other changes occurred in 1782, 1810, and 1861.

In addition to the textual changes, two different tunes have been attached. Originally, the tune was one commonly affixed to Wesley's celebrated Easter song, "Christ the Lord is Risen Today."  According to William Studwell, it was "a poor fit at best."

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ALSO THIS WEEK:  Monday: Once in Royal David's City  Tuesday: Angels from the Realms of Glory  Wednesday: Joy to the World  Friday: Silent Night

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