Angels, from the realms of glory, Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story Now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, come and worship
Worship Christ, the newborn King.
Shepherds, in the field abiding, Watching o’er your flocks by night,...
God with man is now residing; Yonder shines the infant light. Refrain.
Sages, leave your contemplations; Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations; Ye have seen His natal star. Refrain.
All creation, join in praising God, the Father, Spirit, Son,
Evermore your voices raising To the eternal Three in One. Refrain.
James Montgomery, a newspaperman in London, had been imprisoned twice for his controversial editorials, but there was no controversy when he ran this poem in his newspaper column on Christmas Eve, 1816.
Other than Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, probably no writer has contributed more to the development of Christian hymns than this unique journalist who championed the cause of the poor and downtrodden, as well as foreign missions. It is fitting that the music was composed by a blind organist, Henry Smart, the designer and builder of some of England’s finest organs and one of the outstanding musicians of his day.
In writing this hymn, Montgomery referred not only to the Gospel accounts of Christ’s birth, but also to the messianic prophecies of the old Testament, where the Messiah is called the desired of all nations (Haggai 2:7), who world come suddenly to His temple (Malachi 3:1).