Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" is a Christmas carol that
first appeared in 1739 in the collection Hymns and
Sacred Poems, having been written by Charles Wesley. A
somber man, Wesley had requested and received slow and
solemn music for his lyrics, not the joyful tune
expected today. Moreover, Wesley's original opening
couplet is "Hark! how all the welkin rings / Glory to
the King of Kings".
The popular version is the result of alterations by
various hands, notably by Wesley's co-worker George
Whitefield who changed the opening couplet to the
familiar one, and by Felix Mendelssohn. A hundred years
after the publication of Hymns and Sacred Poems, in
1840, Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate
Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, and
it is music from this cantata, adapted by the English
musician William H. Cummings to fit the lyrics of
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”, that propels the carol
In 1855, English musician William H. Cummings adapted
Felix Mendelssohn's secular music from Festgesang to
fit the lyrics of "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing"
written by Charles Wesley. Wesley envisioned the song
being sung to the same tune as his song "Christ the
Lord Is Risen Today", and in some hymnals that tune is
included for "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" along with
the more popular Mendelssohn-Cummings tune.
At the request of a follower, I created this
arrangement of my earlier arrangement
a Modern Small (school) Orchestra (Bb Trumpets,
Flugelhorn, French Horn, Trombones, F Tuba, 2 Violins,
Violas, Cellos & Basses).