Hark! How all the Welkin Rings…
In 1737 Charles Wesley began work on a new Christmas composition, writing, “Hark! how all the welkin rings, glory to the King of Kings.” Quickly the new hymn flowed from his pen. Many of us sang the hymn this past Sunday, but not as Wesley originally wrote it. “Welkin” is a foreign word today, meaning literally “the vault of heaven makes a long noise.” So when the heavens send forth a loud pronouncement, the entire power of the King revealed.
The piece premiered in Wesley’s church and quickly gained favor. However, George Whitefield, field preacher and helper in the Methodist movement, was not fond of the formal language used in Wesley’s hymn. When Whitefield published Wesley’s hymn, he changed the first line to read the familiar, “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing.”
Wesley was furious. For the remainder of his life, Charles Wesley, did not sing the hymn. Yet for many of us, it is a Christmas tradition. Thank you to Mr. Wesley and Mr. Whitefield for giving us important images and beautiful music for the season