It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
A poem and Christmas carol written by Edmund Sears 1849
One of two melodies: “Carol,” composed by Richard Storrs Willis, or “Noel,” adapted from an English melody.
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, goodwill to men
From heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
Can you imagine a brilliant night sky full of stars too many to count, and one so dazzling, big, and bright, one never beheld before or since? Can you envision angels descending to earth singing and praising God, bestowing peace and goodwill to all of mankind? No wonder the world was stilled; no wonder fear of this event filled our hearts and minds; no wonder the star, songs, and angels convinced the shepherds that something unimaginable was happening!
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.
Still they come, still they sing, still they come to us, weary and care worn. Still they come to lift our sadness with their songs of joy and thanksgiving … still.
O ye 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;
Oh rest beside the weary road
And hear the angels sing.
You know, Dear Lord, of our worldly burdens; You know how tired and worn we become; You know of the wear and tear on our bodies from work and the aging process; You know we look for rest and peace. Help us to rest and listen as the angels still sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Each day brings us closer to the day when You, Jesus, come to reign; Heaven and Earth will be as one. We’ll join the angels in songs of Praise and Thanksgiving. We’ll reunite with all our loved ones and live as You, Dear Lord, would have us live, together in peace, loving and thanking You for Your magnificent gift of life lived as one of Your precious children. Amen