Charles Wesley was himself a sinner who was reconciled. His reflections in verse 3 of this carol seem to refer specifically to himself and what God had done in him.
It seems that Charles Wesley was ordained as a minister, went from England to America to be a missionary, but was himself not yet a believer. It wasn’t until 1738, when a Moravian (to whom Charles was teaching English) challenged Charles Wesley to look at the state of his soul, that Charles trusted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
Charles Wesley’s response was to begin writing a hymn that testified to his conversion. In fact, Charles Wesley wrote almost 9,000 hymns in his lifetime, writing about 10 poetic lines a day for 50 years! Here in this carol, Wesley writes poetically about how Jesus’ birth brought him new life.
Wesley understood that we each need to have our souls healed. We can attempt to do good works on our own, but without Christ our own good efforts are both meaningless and empty. We need to have our hearts changed and renewed.
As Wesley states so eloquently, Jesus was “born to raise the sons of earth, Born to give them second birth.” We each need to be raised to new life, because we are dead spiritually, even when we physically look alive. We are born into sin when we are born on this earth, but Jesus was born to give us second birth, as he said to Nicodemus in John 3.
Jesus understood birth, having both created it and having been born himself. He understood that something miraculous happens when we are born the first time, and similarly something miraculous must happen to be born a second time. It must happen to us, because we cannot accomplish it ourselves, either the first time or the second time.
Considering this truth, as Wesley did, makes me want to sing with the angels, “Christ is born in Bethlehem! Glory to the newborn King.”