In every Christmas pageant I’ve been part of, this song always seems to appear. Try explaining to children what some of these lyrics mean! It’s easy to point to the angels, because after all they are the ones proclaiming the message of the song.
Kids understand angels it seems. We adults may have a harder time wrapping our minds around them. At least for me, being visited by an angel would be a huge honor and definite high point in my life. That is, once I got past the “fear and trembling,” which seems to be a common reaction! Read Luke 2:8-14.
So, what do the lyrics say to us in today’s world? While we may have just been transported back to those lonely hills outside Bethlehem centuries earlier, let’s look at the theme of reconciliation. The 4th line of the song talks about being reconciled with God. That jumped off the page for me today.
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 the angelic host proclaim,
“Christ is born in Bethlehem!”
Along with peace and mercy, Jesus brings us our hope of being reconciled with God. It’s a given that we are sinful. Period. That sin keeps us separated from God and all that he intends for us. That’s not a great future. Jesus came to reconcile us to God, to mend that relationship.
We can all think of earthly relationships with friends, family, and even just acquaintances. Dysfunction is becoming a more common way of describing family dynamics than ever before. You may have even celebrated Christmas with a family member where there was tension. Imagine feeling that same friction with God. Some people I know blame God for their misfortune.
Colossians 1:21-22 speaks to being apart from God and our need for reconciliation. Being an enemy of God doesn’t really sound appealing to me at all. But, because of Jesus and through faith in him, we are reconciled to God, holy and blameless! Hallelujah!
It does us all good to remember that Jesus is our source. We respond to him and his miraculous coming into our world and lives with joy! Let us proclaim our Savior’s birth!
Who is this Savior Jesus? The next verse gives us a few clues.
Christ, by highest heav’n adored,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
late in time behold him come,
offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with man to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel!
Jesus’ name, Immanuel, promises that God is with us. Lots of power in names, you know, especially in the Bible! So, if he’s “with” us, what does “late in time” mean, do you think? I’m sure Jesus arrived at just the right moment, whether people felt he was late or not. As we await Jesus’ return, we could say he’s late, we need him NOW! But that day will come–in God’s perfect time.
Jesus came as a man, “veiled in flesh,” so he could feel what we feel. He was pleased to be a man dwelling among us. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that though a man, Jesus did not sin. He was gathering great intel being immersed in our world. Jesus was alive and with the people in his day, and he is alive today with a different way of interacting with us.
Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Son 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.
We should “hail” the coming of our Lord and salvation. Even as we think about and celebrate the glorious birth, we look ahead. We know that Jesus’ life was filled with healings and miracles. He was the light of the world! And we can’t help but look to the cross knowing how the story plays out. Jesus came to give us life eternal. It talks about our being born again right here in the last line of this verse!
Jesus’ words to Nicodemus in the cover of night explain the simplicity of salvation and our second birth. Read it here in John 3:1-21.
God loves you! He loved the world so much he sent his only Son, Jesus. Jesus will be our forever King. There’s a lot to reflect on in this beautiful song. Let the words and truth of the great refrain of this song resonate and draw you in today. “Glory to the newborn King!”
Let’s pray. Lord God, I thank you for this opportunity to reflect on your majesty. The angels show me how to approach your majesty. May I sing your praises for all you have done for me. I look forward to each new day and how you will unfold each new blessing. Bless all that I say and do this day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.