Hark! Thoughts on a Christmas Classic


We often recite Christmas lyrics from memory without meditating on the words. Recently, though, I was listening to the classic Christmas hymn “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley. I was in my car mindlessly singing, “Hail the Sun of Righteousness! Light and life to all He brings, Risen with healing in His wings.”

But then I began to reflect on the words for once, and they didn’t make a ton of sense. Jesus isn’t an angelic being, I thought. He doesn’t even have wingsBut if He did, would these wings have magical healing powers? My inner dialogue continued: Is this hymn heretical? Should I add this to the list of songs that I cannot sing because they are theologically inaccurate?

I went home and looked up the lyrics. The song mentions Sun, not Son, of Righteousness. In fact, the phrase “Son of Righteousness” is never found in the Bible, but “Sun of Righteousness” is. Jesus is called the Son of David (Matthew 21:9), Son of Man (81 times in the Gospels) and the Righteous One (Isaiah 24:16), but never the Son of Righteousness.

These questions sent me on a nerdy Christmas carol investigation. I wanted to know what this verse of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was all about.

To answer that question, we must start in Malachi. …Read More.