I gave you fair warning when I covered the first stanza of this hymn on December 3. This has got to be the most theologically rich of all the best-loved hymns of Christmas. Which, again, is why I need to cover each of the four stanzas.
A couple days ago, I simply posted a hymn from the New Testament – a remarkable passage posted by Paul in his blog to the Colossian people in the first century. When I read or sing this second stanza of “Hark the Herald,” I can’t help but think of that passage. To see what I mean, I’m posting the lyrics just above the Colossian passage, for your own comparison and consideration. I’ve color-coded the comparisons of note:
Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come, offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity;
Please as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.
Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn king!”
THE WORD (Colossians 1:15-20)
15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
16 for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
17 He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
18 Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
19 For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
20 and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
My prayer for this Christmas season is that through the meditation of the words of both scripture and well-written Christmas hymns, we would each have a fuller understanding of the meaning of Christmas this year. I pray that when you pull back the covers of the baby in the manger, you would see not just a cute infant, but the glory of the creator of the universe, who also came to die for you.