MENDELSSOHN

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy

Jacob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy; b. 1809, Hamburg; d. 1847, Leipzig Evangelical Lutheran Hymnal, 1908 Go to person page >

Tune Information

Composer: Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1840)
Meter: 7.7.7.7
Incipit: 51171 33255 54323
Key: F Major
Copyright: Public Domain

Texts

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

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 th'angelic hosts proclaim,
"Christ is born in Bethlehem!"

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Notes

The tune is from the second chorus of Felix Mendelssohn's (PHH 279) Festgesang (Op. 68) for male voices and brass; it was first performed in 1840 at the Gutenberg Festival in Leipzig, a festival celebrating the anniversary of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. Mendelssohn's tune is similar to another that appeared one hundred years earlier in 'The Song of Mars" from the John Pepusch opera Venus and Adonis. Mendelssohn once wrote of this music, "It will never do to sacred words." William H. Cummings (b. Sidbury, Devonshire, England, 1831; d. Dulwich, London, England, 1915) may not have been aware of Mendelssohn’s opinion; he adapted the tune to Wesley's text in 1856. When they were placed together in Hymns Ancient and Modern (1861), "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" became a very popular hymn. Cummings had a lifelong love of Felix Mendelssohn, sparked when he sang at age sixteen in the first London performance of Elijah, which was directed by Mendelssohn himself. As a young boy, Cummings had been a chorister at St. Paul's Cathedral and later sang in the choirs of the Temple Church, Westminster Abbey, and the Chapel Royal. Cummings became a famous tenor–he sang in oratorios and was especially known for his evangelist role in the Bach passions. He taught voice at the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal Normal College and School for the Blind in London and was also an accomplished organist. Cummings wrote books and articles on music history, wrote a biography of Henry Purcell and edited his music, and composed many choral pieces. MENDELSSOHN is an excellent match for Wesley's text. It is a rousing tune, even martial in some of its phrases. Sing with lots of enthusiasm; do not drown out the stanzas with too much organ–save that extra stop for the refrain and the final stanza. Let the final stanza soar with the descant and the alternate harmonization by David Willcocks (b. Newquay, England, 1919), published in Carols for Choir 1(1961). Willcocks has had a highly distinguished musical career. A chorister at Westminster Abbey, he continued his education at Clifton College, the Royal College of Music, and King's College, Cambridge, England. He was organist of Worcester Cathedral (1950-1957) and conductor of the Bradford Festival Choral Society (1955-1974). Under his leader¬ship as director of music and organist of King's College, Cambridge, from 1957 to 1974, the King's College Choir began a series of recordings which, among other repertoires, made famous the annual Festival of Lessons and Carols. Beginning in 1960 Willcocks conducted the Bach Choir of London, and in 1973 he became director of the Royal College of Music. Mainly a composer of church music, Willcocks has also made arrangements of carols, many of which were published in the various Oxford's Carols for Choirs publications. He makes frequent trips to North America for choral festivals. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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Baptist Hymnal 1991 #88
Text: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
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Text: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
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Text: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
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Text: Hark! the Herald Angels Sing

Instances

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Include 179 pre-1979 instances
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