Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - the sins against political correctness
It sins against political correctness particularly in the following lines:
'Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled'
This reflects the biblical teaching that God and sinners need reconciling because the God of the Bible is a God of wrath who is implacably opposed to human evil and sin. Therefore he is implacably hostile to us when we devote ourselves to sin (see Romans 1v18ff; Ephesians 2v1-3). This biblical teaching is reflected in Cranmer's Book of Common Prayer in the general confession at Holy Communion: 'We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we from time to time most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us'. An unforgettable New Testament expression of the truth of 'God and sinners reconciled' is to be found in 2 Corinthians 5v19: 'In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us (that is to the apostles and those who subsequently proclaim the apostolic Gospel) the message of reconciliation' (ESV).
'Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb'
This offends against postmodern sensibilities not so much in its acknowledgement of the miraculous but in its celebration of the fact that a young woman was not sexually active before heterosexual marriage.
'Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus our Emmanuel'
Wesley of course believed that Jesus came to save women as well as men from God's wrath on sin, but the reference to humanity as 'man' reminds of the fact that Adam, the first man, is the federal head of the human race who led us into disaster. Jesus, the second Adam, is the representative Man who, to quote Article II of the Church of England's 39 Articles of Religion, 'truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men'.
So let's enjoy singing this wonderful Christmas carol to Christ's praise and glory whilst it is still legal in the United Kingdom to use it uncensored in public worship.