‘Hark, the Herald Angles Sing’ in Spanish

Lyrics with translation notes for Spanish students

Hark the Herald Angels
Paz en la Tierra. (Peace on Earth.).

Pete Ark / Getty Images

"Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" is one of the hundreds of hymns written by Englishman Charles Wesley in the 19th century. This song has been modified over the many years since; although it is not especially well-known in Spanish-speaking areas, it has been translated to the language in several ways. Here is one set of Spanish lyrics for two of the verses, followed by translation notes for Spanish students:

Escuchad el son triunfal

Escuchad el son triunfal de la hueste celestial:
Paz y buena voluntad; salvación Dios os dará.
Cante hoy toda nación la angelical canción;
estas nuevas todos den: Nació Cristo en Belén.

¡Salve, Príncipe de Paz! Redención traído has,
luz y vida con virtud, en tus alas la salud.
De tu trono has bajado y la muerte conquistado
para dar al ser mortal nacimiento celestial.

English Translation of the Spanish Lyrics

Listen to the triumphal sound of the celestial host:
Peace and good will; God will give us salvation.
Each nation, sing today the angelical song;
Give this good news: Christ was born in Bethlehem.

Hail, Prince of Peace! Redemption you have brought
Light and life with virtue, health in your wings.
You have come down from your throne and conquered death
it order to give celestial birth to the mortal being.

Translation Notes

escuchad: If you've studied only Latin American Spanish, you may not know this verb form well. It's the second-person plural familiar imperative (command) form of escuchar, the form that goes with vosotros. This word, then, means "you (plural) listen" or simply "listen." This verb form is used primarily in Spanish but remains understood in Latin America.

el son: This isn't related to son the verb, but is a word meaning "sound." In everyday speech, you're far more likely to heard the word sonido.

de: De is one of the most common of Spanish prepositions. It is almost always translated as "of" or "from"; either translation would work here, while "from" is the preferred translation in the seventh line.

la hueste: This uncommon word has the same meaning as the English cognate "host" in the context of this song. In plural form, the word gets some modern use with las huestes as a way of saying "the army forces."

buena voluntad: Literally "good will."

os dará: Os is an object pronoun meaning "you (plural)" that you'll hear mostly in Spain. So "salvación Dios os dará" means "God will give you salvation." In everyday speech, la salvación would be said, with la being a definite article. Several other definite articles are omitted throughout this song; it is common in poetry to fudge grammar rules to maintain rhythm.

cante: Cante here is a subjunctive form of cantar, to sing. Cante hoy cada nación could be translated as "may each nation sing."

toda: Toda is the feminine singular form of todo. In singular form, todo typically is the equivalent of "each"; as plural, it usually means "all."

estas nuevas: Although not as common as noticias, nuevas is one way of saying "news," so estas nuevas would be "this news."

den: This is a plural command or plural present subjunctive form of dar, to give.

estas nuevas todos den: This sentence uses an inverted word order, which is fairly common in song lyrics and poetry. This sentence could be translated as "may all give the good news."

Belén: The Spanish name for Bethlehem. It is not uncommon for cities, especially those known centuries ago, to have different names in different languages. In modern Spanish, belén has come to refer to a nativity scene or creche.

salve: In this song, salve is an interjection of greeting, meaning something like "Hail!" in English. In other contexts, a salve can be a hymn or a Hail Mary.

Redención traído has: Another case of inverted word order. The typical structure would be "Has traído redención," "you have brought redemption." Note that this verse is sung to the Savior rather than about the Savior as in the English version of the hymn.

ala: An ala is a wing, as of a bird. This is a metaphorical usage here; "en tus alas la salud" could very loosely be translated as "with healing on your wings."

trono: Throne.

has bajado: You have come down. Bajado here is an example of a past participle.

la muerte conquistado: Another inverted word order. In normal speech, "has conquistado la muerte" would be more common for "you have conquered death." Conquistado here is also a past participle.

para: Para is a common preposition that is sometimes used to indicate the purpose or utility of a thing or action. As such, it sometimes is translated as "in order to." 

ser: Here, ser is functioning as a noun meaning "being" rather than a verb meaning "to be"; ser humano is the common way of saying "human being." In Spanish, most infinitives can function as nouns.

nacimiento: Birth. Nacimiento is a noun form of nacer, to be born.