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.
What? Advent starts tomorrow and already you want a Christmas carol? Purists say we should not give in to a culture that rushes Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Advent is the time to sing advent hymns; Christmas carols should be saved for the 12 days of Christmas. In many churches that’s a lost cause. Actually, I love advent hymns and this carol was never my favorite, but the more I read the words, the more I realize it is fitting for these times of endings and beginnings. It speaks not just of the long ago coming of the Christ child, but of Christ’s presence with us now and into the future. Angels still come, hovering and singing over a weary world, promising rest for those who are bent low with life’s crushing load. On this last day of the church year, we can sing of hastening days and “ever-circling years” and of 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.”
God of our days and years, as once you came to us on that midnight clear, so come to us in our own time and place with stillness and rest, and lead us and your whole world into a future of glad and golden peace. Amen.