"HARK, THE GLAD SOUND"
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek…" (Isa. 61.1)
INTRO.: A hymn which points to the incarnation of Christ as the one prophesied to be anointed to preach good tidings to the meek is "Hark, the Glad Sound." Based on Isa. 61, the text was written by Philip Doddridge (1702-1751). Perhaps best known for the hymn "O Happy Day," Doddridge penned "Hark, the Glad Sound" to accompany a sermon delivered on Dec. 28, 1735. Originally in seven stanzas, it was first published in the 1745 Translations and Paraphrases for the Scottish Church, and then was later included in Job Orton’s 1755 posthumous collection of Doddridge’s works, Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures. The tune (Newbold) used in our books was composed by George Kingsley (1811-1884). A self-taught musician from Northampton, MA, he became well known as an organist in the area of Boston, MA. Also, he taught music at Girard College in Philadelphia, PA and served as music supervisor for public schools in Philadelphia. During his life, he compiled a number of music books, including Sunday School Singing Book in 1832, The Harmonist in 1833, The Social Choir in 1836, The Sacred Choir in 1838, The Harp of David in 1844, The Young Ladies’ Harp in 1847, Templi Carmina in 1853, and the Juvenile Choir in 1865.
Another of Kingsley’s tunes has been used in many of our books with Charles Wesley’s "My Lord, My Truth, My Way." In addition, he arranged a melody by French opera composer Louis Joseph Ferdinand Herold as a hymn tune, which Great Songs Revised uses with Frances R. Havergal’s "Take My Life and Let It Be." Cyberhymnal credits Kingsley with nine tunes, many of which were published in Charles Everest’s 1873 Sabbath. After returning to Northampton, Kingsley died there. Among hymnnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, "Hark, the Glad Sound" appeared in the 1921 Great Songs of the Church (No. 1) and the 1937 Great Songs of the Church No. 2 both edited by E. L. Jorgenson; the 1963 Christian Hymnal edited by J. Nelson Slater, where the same tune was also used with Charles Wesley’s "O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing;" and the 1965 Great Christian Hymnal No. 2 edited by Tillit S. Teddlie.
The song uses present tense to look at the coming of Christ when it happened as the fulfilment of prophecy.
I. Stanza 1 centers on the promise
"Hark, the glad sound, the Savior comes, The Savior promised long;
Let every heart prepare a throne, And every voice a song."
A. Jesus came to save His people from their sins: Mt. 1.21
B. God had long promised that a Savior would come: Gen. 3.15, Joel 2.32
C. Every heart needs to prepare Him a throne because His kingdom is within us: Lk. 17.21
II. Stanza 2 centers upon the Spirit
"On Him the Spirit, largely poured, Exerts His sacred fire;
Wisdom and might, and zeal and love, His holy breast inspire."
A. On Jesus Christ, the Spirit descended: Matt. 3.16, Lk. 4.18
B. The Spirit exerted His sacred fire, as demonstrated by Christ’s zeal: Jn. 2.13-17
C. As a result, Christ was possessed with wisdom and might: Matt. 13.54
III. Stanza 3 centers upon freedom
"He comes the prisoners to release, In Satan’s bondage held;
The gates of brass before Him burst, The iron fetters yield."
A. Jesus Christ came to make man free: Gal. 5.1
B. This freedom is from Satan’s bondage, which is sin: Rom. 6.18-19
C. The bursting of brass gates and yielding of iron fetters symbolize that fact that His truth will make us free: Jn. 8.32
IV. Stanza 4 centers upon healing
"He comes the broken heart to bind, The bleeding soul to cure;
And with the treasures of His grace, T’enrich the humble poor."
A. Jesus came to bind the broken heart by bringing it back to God: Heb. 10.22
B. He came to cure the bleeding soul by making it possible to have salvation from sin: 1 Pet. 1.9
C. He came to enrich the humble poor by preaching the gospel to them:
V. Stanza 5 centers upon joy
"His silver trumpets publish loud The jubilee of the Lord;
Our debts are all remitted now, Our heritage restored."
A. Jesus came to publish loud the good tidings just as the silver trumpets were used among the people of Israel: Num. 10.2
B. In so doing, He brings joy to mankind just as the year of jubilee brought joy to the oppressed in Israel: Lev. 25.8-12
C. As the debts of the Israelites were remitted every fifty years, so the Lord has promised to forgive our debts to Him through Christ: Matt. 6.12
VI. Stanza 6 centers upon praise
"Our glad hosannas, Prince of Peace, Thy welcome shall proclaim;
And heaven’s eternal arches ring With Thy beloved name."
A. Those who saw firsthand the works of Christ hailed Him, saying "Hosanna in the highest": Matt. 21.8-9
B. One reason for this is that He came as the Prince of Peace: Isa. 9.6
C. Therefore, heaven’s eternal arches will ring with His name as the one in whom salvation is found: Acts 4.12
CONCL.: The original stanza 4 is usually omitted because it sounds very much like a passage in Pope’s Messiah:
"He comes, from thickest films of vice, To clear the mental ray.
And on the eyes oppressed with night To pour celestial day."
As we think about all the plans, preparations, and promises that the Lord
made throughout the Old Testament period concerning the Lord’s advent, we
can certainly express the wish that if we had been alive then we would
have been among that number that said, "Hark, the Glad Sound."