Written by Charles Wesley in 1739, this carol originally began as ‘Hark, how all the Welkin rings’. ‘What’s a Welkin?’ you all say. Well, it’s the sky and suggests imagery of angels singing but the lyrics were updated to what we sing today.
Wesley wanted to remind us that Jesus was God’s plan to bring us back to Him
‘Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.’
Christmas isn’t just about Jesus’ birth; it’s about giving us another chance to start again with God – our ‘second birth’.
In contrast, this beautiful carol is based on a poem entitled ‘A Christmas Carol’ by English poet Christina Rossetti which was published in 1872. Gustav Holst set the poem to music in 1906.
The perennial carol is a stark contrast to most other Christmas songs, being simple and sombre in tone. It focuses on the birth of Jesus Christ, and features many images we associate with the nativity; the manger, a stable, angels, livestock and the Wise Men.
The meaning of the words lie in their humble simplicity – the stable stood in a bleak midwinter's night is 'enough' for the baby Jesus. This carol doesn't shout from the rooftops about Christmas cheer; instead, it focuses on the simplest yet truest gift of all, love.