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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney


Updated: Dec 19, 2022

Leading up to Christmas Day, I thought it would be good to look at 15 of the most popular carols (chosen by Classic FM listeners) and consider the content and what we can learn from them.

A reflection based on HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING, number 5 in our chart of most popular carols.


(Charles Wesley’s original ‘Hymn for Christmas Day’ has undergone a number of revisions with these lyrics being the most commonly used since its revision in 1961).

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 hosts proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King

Christ by highest heav'n adored Christ the everlasting Lord Late in time behold Him come Offspring of the Virgin's womb Veiled in flesh the Godhead see Hail th'incarnate Deity Pleased as man with men to dwell Jesus our Emmanuel Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace Hail the Sun 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 Hark the herald angels sing Glory to the newborn King.


We are being called to listen and heed (harken to) the words of the angels on that first Christmas. If we do so, we will discover great joy. We are being urged to pay attention to what they sang and let their message penetrate our hearts. Luke records:

‘And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”’ (Luke 2:8-12)


The angels are giving glory and are exhorting us to give glory to Jesus by receiving and exulting in His nature and the reason for His birth. The angels call Jesus "The Messiah," "The Lord." "Messiah" means "anointed one" and refers to Him as the great promised king. As "Lord," He is God among us; Jesus is the "newborn king."

Do we honour Jesus as our king? Are we seeking to live in submission to His will in every aspect of our lives?


The lyrics speak of Jesus as the source of "peace on earth" and as the "heav'n-born Prince of Peace." Jesus' rule and peace-making is prophesied by Isaiah:

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)

This peace is about Jesus reconciling God and sinners through His life, death, and resurrection. This message is not just a temporary, holiday-themed sentiment, but rather a fundamental truth about the nature and purpose of Jesus' coming into the world. Jesus has come to bring salvation and reconciliation to all people, offering the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through His death on the cross.

Do we understand how we can have peace with God? Do we experience the peace of God?


Jesus is God come in the flesh. He is the "offspring of the virgin's womb," and as such, Jesus is truly human. However, we are also encouraged to sing: "Veiled in flesh the Godhead see..." and "Jesus our Emmanuel." As such, Jesus is also truly God. He is God "incarnate" (in flesh). Jesus is both God and man. He is both the nature of manhood and deity in one person. Both natures are fully preserved, unmixed, and undiluted.

Do we recognise Jesus as God and worship him as such? Do we understand that He was also fully human and so was able to give His life for our salvation?




1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Hopefully, see you on Christmas Morning from 10:00-11:00.

There is no service on 1st January.


2. Icebreaker

What has God been speaking to you about from your Bible reading recently?


3. Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group

On Sunday we looked at what it means for Jesus to be Immanuel.

Please read Matthew 1:18-24

Matthew gives us three names or titles for Jesus:

  1. Jesus - God Saves

  2. Messiah - The anointed King

  3. Immanuel - God with us



Immanuel, which means 'God with us', refers to the belief that God, in the form of Jesus, came to Earth as a human being. This event, known as the incarnation, is celebrated during Christmas. The Chalcedonian Creed, a statement of Christian belief from the 5th century, affirms that Jesus had both a divine and human nature, without mixing or altering either.

Jesus’ divine and human natures are beautifully set in the carol, O Come All Ye Faithful:

‘God of God Light of light Lo He abhors not the virgin's womb Very God Begotten not created’


In addition to Jesus' presence on Earth in the past, the term Immanuel also refers to Jesus' presence with us through the Holy Spirit in the present. He has promised:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-121)


Finally, Immanuel speaks to the promise of Jesus' future return and the renewal of the Earth with God's glory. According to the book of Revelation, this will be a time when God dwells among people, wiping away all tears and pain, and creating a new heaven and earth."

‘Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”’ (Revelation 21:1-5)


i. Did you feel that God spoke to you from any particular aspect of Sunday's message?

ii. What does it mean for Jesus to be Immanuel?

ii. How can we ensure that we focus and help others to focus on Jesus being Immanuel during this Christmas season?

ii. How does the title Immanuel bring comfort and joy to us?


SIV - Do you have any encouraging stories of sharing your faith?

SIV- Let's pray for those that God has put on our hearts.

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