Hark the herald angels sing...
Charles Wesley's popular Christmas anthem began life in 1739 with the words "Hark how all the welkin rings..." intoned to a stately tune to convey the sense of solemn wonder which best expressed Wesley's own appreciation of Christ's incarnation. Over the years both words and music received several make-overs until, in 1856, William Cummings gave it its final form, as the upbeat roof-raiser we know and love today.
As well as its rousing tune, the hymn's enduring popularity owes much to its message of comfort and hope, for it celebrates how God in Jesus is "pleased as man with man to dwell" and it concludes "Born that man no more may die...". In this respect the hymn is for all seasons and not just for Christmas because the need for comfort and hope is universal and constant and does not come just once a year!