Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’ve heard it said before that the first line of Wesley’s glorious carol, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is technically wrong since Luke’s Gospel records that the regiment of angels were “saying” (λέγω).

For instance, Luke 2:13-14 reads in the ESV:

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The Greek reads for this passage reads:

13και εξαιφνης εγενετο συν τω αγγελω πληθος στρατιας ουρανιου αινουντων τον θεον και λεγοντων 14δοξα εν υψιστοις θεω και επι γης ειρηνη εν ανθρωποις ευδοκια.

Rod Decker notes (on the authority of Danker’s new lexicon) that this is a spurious objection. I agree wholeheartedly. It is true that λέγω can refer to speaking, but a similar word in Ephesians 5:19 (λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες εν τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω) also quite evidently refers either to singing (specifically) or to communication that includes singing (generally). The idea of these words, both of which English translations often render “saying” or “speaking,” carries a broader referent than non-singing discourse.*

For more on the carol itself, you could read Dave Doran’s post on it.

Hark, the Herald Angels Sing by the King’s College Choir, directed by Sir David Willcocks

*The original post read, “It is true that λέγω can refer to speaking*, but in Ephesians 5:19 (λαλουντες εαυτοις ψαλμοις και υμνοις και ωδαις πνευματικαις αδοντες και ψαλλοντες εν τη καρδια υμων τω κυριω) it quite evidently refers either to singing (specifically) or to communication that includes singing (generally).” See the helpful correction posted by Dr Decker below in the comments.

Advertisements