1 It came upon the midnight clear,
that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth,
to touch their harps of gold:
“Peace on the earth, good will to all,
from heaven’s all-gracious King”:
the world in solemn stillness lay,
to hear the angels sing.
2 Still through the cloven skies they come,
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats
o’er all the weary world:
above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o’er its Babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.
3 Yet with the woes of sin and strife
the world has suffered long;
beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled
two thousand years of wrong;
and we at war on earth hear not
the tidings that they bring;
O, hush the noise and cease the strife
to hear the angels sing!
4 And you, beneath life’s crushing load,
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow,
look now, for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing:
O, rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing.
5 For lo, the days are hastening on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world give back the song
which now the angels sing.
|First Line:||It came upon the midnight clear|
|Title:||It Came Upon the Midnight Clear|
|Author:||Edmund Hamilton Sears (1849, alt.)|
|Topic:||Christian Year: Nativity/Christmas; Christian Year: Epiphany; Jesus Christ: Birth|
|Composer:||Richard Storrs Willis (1850)|
|Notes:||(alternate tune: NOEL)|
The “it” of the first line of this text by a Unitarian minister does not refer to the birth of Jesus, but to “that glorious song of old,” the angelic tidings of peace on earth. The restored third stanza laments how often the noise of human strife has obscured that message.
|Audio recording:||Audio (MP3)|