We have been spending the last couple weeks looking at the Christmas carol, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” In the first week, we saw how the first verse of the carol commanded us to “join the triumph of the skies” by proclaiming Christ to everyone, near and far. In the second week, we saw how the second verse of the carol encouraged us to dwell on the truth of Who this Christ is: He is fully God and fully human, the Incarnate Deity, God With Us. This third and final week, let’s look more closely at the third verse of the carol.
Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace, hail the Son of Righteousness! Life and light to all He brings, risen with healing in His wings. Mild He lay 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!”
Just as there has been each week, there is so much here that I won’t even mention. May God bring to focus in your heart what He knows you need to be reminded of. All three verses of this carol are rich in truths to treasure. This final verse not only tells us more about who Christ is; it tells us why He came.
Praise our Lord, the Prince of Peace, the one from Heaven, the Son of Righteousness. He brings light and life, as John tells us: “In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4). He was “in very nature God, (yet) He did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage” (Philippians 2:6). Instead, He was made like us, “fully human in every way” (Hebrews 2:17b), and “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:7a), sharing in our humanity and serving.
The question is, why? Why would the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Righteousness, “lay His glory by”? The song answers: he was born so that we would no longer die. He was born to resurrect us. He was born so that we might be born again. The author of Hebrews agrees: He was made to be like us “so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14b-15). He came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). He came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).
After His ministry on earth was finished, He was put to death, and yet the darkness did not overcome the light, for He rose, alive again. Death could not stop the Author of Life (Acts 2:24). Jesus Christ was “exalted to the highest place” and was given “the name that is above every name.” And one day, every knee “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” will bow, and every tongue will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
In yet another letter from John, he tells us that the day is coming when Christ will return a second time. When He does, He will usher in the new heaven and the new earth, and then “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore” (Revelation 21:4). How is that possible? Because “He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:3). The source of all that is good and holy and pure and right, Love itself, God with us, for all eternity.
Christ has made this all possible. If He had not come as an infant, this communion with God, life everlasting in His presence, would be impossible. This is why we celebrate Christ’s birth. It is not just the good news of a healthy baby being born, as wonderful as that news is. It is the good news that brings great joy to all the people, for Christ, the Savior of the world that is in desperate need of saving, has arrived. The perfect Substitute in life and in death has been born. The King has come to rescue His people.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise! Join the triumph of the skies! With angelic hosts proclaim, “Christ is born in Bethlehem!” Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
Read John 11:25-27. What does it mean to believe that Jesus is the resurrection, the life, the Messiah, and the Son of God?
Each week, I have been posting a link to a different version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” There are many versions, old and new, so I’ve posted my three favorites in hopes that they lead you to not just appreciate the song more, but to worship our Lord more.