It Came upon the Midnight Clear (ELW 282)
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 heav'n'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 heav'nly music floats
o'er all the weary world.
Above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hov'ring wing,
and ever o'er its babel sounds
the blessed angels sing.
3 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;
oh, rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing!
4 For lo! The days are hast'ning 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 all the world give back the song
which now the angels sing.
Text: Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876
In the Bible the speaking of a word can bring about what it names. God says, "Let there be light"; light appears. Jesus says, "Be still"; calm replaces storm.
And on an ancient night as most of the world sleeps, angels bend low "to touch their harps" (Where were those harps exactly? Somewhere on earth, it seems!) and sing, "Peace! Good will!" Somehow, the heavenly King on whose behalf the words ring out will make it so.
"The weary world" is still largely unaware of God's holiness hovering near, distracted as we are by "babel sounds," pain and toil, "life's crushing load." So the hymn writer invites us to pause — to "rest beside the weary road and hear the angels sing!" The angels' words will become what they name: peace, good will. We want it now, but "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day" (2 Peter 3:8).
Be patient, weary one. "To you is born . . . a Savior" (Luke 2:11). God is with you. And angels still sing.
God, thank you for assuring us that the time will come when peace reigns over all the earth, and the whole world will sing with the angels. In the newborn Savior we pray. Amen.