~* IT CAME UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR *~
Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:13

The peace of Christ's birthday, proclaimed by the heavenly chorus, is one of God's greatest gifts to mankind. "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (II Corinthians 5:19). This message of reconciliation involves us on three different levels: peace with God, peace with our fellow men, and peace within our own hearts, that fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is this blessed concept that Edmund Sears wanted to emphasize in his unusual carol.

In the second stanza Sears stressed the social aspects of the angels' message--the hope of spreading peace and good will to others who are burdened and painfully toiling. The hymn was written in 1849, a time preceding the Civil War when there was much tension over many different issues in America, including slavery, the industrial revolution, and the California gold rush. The final verse looks forward optimistically to a time when all people will enjoy the peace of which the angels sang.

This carol is one of the finest ever written by an American. After graduation from the Harvard School of Divinity, Edmund Sears spent most of his life in small pastorates in the East.



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 men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

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 over its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And 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.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the Earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.



*For Today*: Luke 2:9-14; Ephesians 2:14; Hebrews 1:6

Just as the angelic announcement of peace was given at a time of much turmoil caused by the heavy rule of the Roman Empire, so today does God's message of peace come despite life's stormy circumstances.

Music url: The Cyber Hymnal

Taken from Amazing Grace -- 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions © Copyright 1990 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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