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Christmas Hymns 3

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks
The Truth Network Radio
December 11, 2021 12:00 pm

Christmas Hymns 3

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks

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December 11, 2021 12:00 pm

Robby and James continue to discuss Christmas music and the meaning behind the lyrics.

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Anytime, about anything. On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the best-selling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray. And now, here's James.

So today on Encouraging Prayer, we're continuing our series on praying and singing through Christmas. You know, I've really been enjoying this series because... Hark! James? Yeah? Why do you keep saying hark? You sound like a dog with a sore throat.

Can I answer your question with a question? Yeah, there you go. Okay, well, what Christmas carol do you hear at the end of the movie, It's a Wonderful Life? Well, trivia question here. Well, hark, the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king.

That's it, that's it. So, that's why I was saying it, and as someone who has a little too much fun with words sometimes, I guess I just couldn't resist saying that one, because I mean, if you think about it, nobody says hark anymore. It's archaic in English, but I mean, it's a great word. Oh, I like it. Can I say it?

Hark. That's true, it's just another way of saying listen. But if someone were to tell you to listen to something saying hark, I mean, you might say it sounds a little funny.

I would, you know. One of the things that we have to be careful about in our faith, I think, is talking in a way so that others can really understand us. And that's part of the story behind this Christmas song, but we'll get to that in a moment, and we'll also get to what it has to do with prayer. But for starters, we don't want to miss the message, what this song is all about. It's saying listen, the angels are singing, and what they're singing about is absolutely amazing. That really is a beautiful thought, and you know, all the more, because it's about something that's true about Jesus' birth, and really, can you just imagine angels praising him?

I mean, to hear angels sing, I can hardly wait. And you're right, we need to listen to that message and take it to heart. All right, so switch gears for a moment. Let's go back to what you were saying about the words we use. I know that's so important not to speak in Christian jargon and use terms that we only use in church, and someone else doesn't understand, because that doesn't help us reach others with the good news that we want to share. But what does that have to do with this song, James?

We probably wouldn't know this carol, if not for a change that was made in its wording, but this song didn't really take off until the words were changed by a famous friend of his, none other than the great evangelist George Whitefield. But before we go there, let me ask you a question. Do you know what a Welkin is? Never heard of it. Well, it sounds like something that was, you know, when my kin were doing good. Yeah. Well, okay. I'm grateful to Robert Morgan for his great writing on hymns for this information. But listen to this. This is the way the song used to start. Heart, how all the Welkin rings.

So what is it? Well, it's an archaic word for the expanse or panorama of heaven. And you can see that when you think of the angels filling the sky after the announcement of Jesus' birth. But the problem was that the word was archaic even back then, back in 1739, when the song was first written. So Whitefield changed it to something everyone could understand.

And you see his own way with words here. Heart, the herald angels sing instead of heart, how all the Welkin rings. And there's one other thing about the song that we should know. There's another lyric change. And this is where I wish we still had the original words because it would help us pray it a little better. Wow.

What was that? Well, when we sing it today, you know, after Whitefield's change, we sing heart, the herald angels sing glory to the newborn king. But what it actually said was heart, the herald angels sing glory to the king of kings. And, you know, saying glory to the newborn king is nice. It puts it right at Jesus' birth. But we already know that he's born.

And Jesus isn't a newborn anymore. He's the king of kings. And I think it helps us to keep that in mind as we praise him.

King of kings and Lord of lords. And that's really the point of the song, right? Helping us to praise God. It makes me think of Luke 2 14 where the angel said, glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.

Yeah, that's really the beauty of it. And I love the way the second verse starts. Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord.

You're right. There are beautiful scripture references in this. And when the third verse says, light and life to all he brings risen with healing in his wings. It's out of Malachi where God tells those who love him. But for you who fear my name, the son of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings and you will go free, leaping with joy like calves out to pasture.

Wow, I love that. If you've ever seen a calf or a lamb kicking its heels up, you know, it's the ultimate picture of life and freedom. You know, and that's what Jesus does for us.

Yeah, yeah, that's the picture. There's no life like the life he gives. And that's another scripture reference at the very end of the third verse where it says, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth.

Of course, he's referring to Jesus' words to Nicodemus in John where he says we must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. So this whole song is just such a beautiful reminder to praise God for Jesus and everything he does for us. And I hope it will encourage us to pray, you know, to pray glory to the King of Kings this week and to praise him for everything he is and does for us. Well, thanks, James. I hope our listeners will hearken to your words. Well done.

Now we're even. Now you've said it twice, or is it three times? You know, I better pray, so. You better.

I won't un-erupt you again, I promise. Father, we do thank you so much for these wonderful saints that wrote these amazing words, these hymns that we sing. But we know what inspired them, something that has inspired their entire life as we pray for that second birth.

For all those listening today, if you haven't enjoyed that, Lord, help them to dig into it and get a taste of it this Christmas. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website,, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-09 23:05:23 / 2023-07-09 23:09:06 / 4

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