1810 - 1876 Person Name: Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876) Scripture: Mark 13:7-8 Author of "It came upon the midnight clear" in Church Hymnary (4th ed.) Edmund Hamilton Sears was born in Berkshire [County], Massachusetts, in 1810; graduated at Union College, Schenectady, in 1834, and at the Theological School of Harvard University, in 1837. He became pastor of the Unitarian Society in Wayland, Mass., in 1838; removed to Lancaster in 1840; but on account of ill health was obliged to retire from the active duties of the ministry in 1847; since then, residing in Wayland, he devoted himself to literature. He has published several works.
--Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872
Sears, Edmund Hamilton, D.D., son of Joseph Sears, was born at Sandisfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, April 6, 1810, and educated at Union College, Schenectady, N.Y., where he graduated in 1834; and at the Theological School at Cambridge. In 1838 he became pastor of the First Church (Unitarian) at Wayland, Massachusetts; then at Lancaster in the same State, in 1840; again at Wayland, in 1847; and finally at Weston, Massachusetts, in 1865. He died at Weston, Jan. 14, 1876. He published:—
(1) Regeneration, 1854; (2) Pictures of the Olden Time, 1857; (3) Athanasia, or Foregleams of Immortality, 1858, enlarged ed., 1872; (4) The Fourth Gospel the Heart of Christ; (5) Sermons and Songs of the Christian Life, 1875, in which his hymns are collected. Also co-editor of the Monthly Religious Magazine.
Of his hymns the following are in common use:—
1. Calm on the listening ear of night. Christmas. This hymn was first published in its original form, in the Boston Observer, 1834; afterwards, in the Christian Register, in 1835; subsequently it was emended by the author, and, as thus emended, was reprinted entire in the Monthly Magazine, vol. xxxv. Its use is extensive.
2. It came upon the midnight clear. Christmas.
"Rev. Dr. Morison writes to us, Sears's second Christmas hymn was sent to me as editor of the Christian Register, I think, in December, 1849. I was very much delighted with it, and before it came out in the Register, read it at a Christmas celebration of Dr. Lunt's Sunday School in Quincy. I always feel that, however poor my Christmas sermon may be, the reading and singing of this hymn are enough to make up for all deficiences.'"
3. Ho, ye that rest beneath the rock. Charitable Meetings on behalf of Children. Appeared in Longfellow and Johnson's Hymns of the Spirit, Boston, 1864, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines.
Dr. Sears's two Christmas hymns rank with the best on that holy season in the English language. Although a member of the Unitarian body, his views were rather Swedenborgian than Unitarian. He held always to the absolute Divinity of Christ. [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.]
--Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Edmund H. Sears