About the Carols

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
The music is from the second chorus of a contata by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) written in 1840 to commemorate Johann Gutenberg and the invention of printing. The words are from a hundred years earlier, written in 1739 by Charles Wesley whose brother, John, founded the Methodist Church. "Hark, how the welkin (heaven) rings," he orginally wrote.
A colleague, the Calvinist Whitefield, substituted the familiar opening line over the protests of the author. In 1855, after both Wesley and Mendelssohn were dead, Dr. William Cummings put the words and music together in spite of evidence that neither author nor composer would have approved.
[Quiz note: Mendelssohn had made it clear that his music was for secular use, and Wesley had specifically requested slow solemn music for his words.]
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