Thursday, December 20, 2018

Blog Caroling 2018 “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”

This message is posted today for Footnote Maven's traditional blog caroling, held every year at Christmas time by the genealogy blogging community!  You can see her announcement here at his link (and there is still time to post YOUR favorite carol, too!)  

I usually like to choose a Christmas carol that has to do my family history or New England history.  The old carol “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” was written by the Rev. Edmund H. Sears (1810 – 1876) of Massachusetts.  He was the pastor of several churches in Massachusetts, including the Unitarian Church in Wayland. He wrote it first as a poem in 1849, after the Mexican-American War, with five stanzas, including one with a message of peace. It appeared in print for the first time in the newsletter Christian Register in Boston.  The following year he set the poem to music by a Boston composer named Richard Storrs Willis (1819 – 1900).  In the UK, Australia and Canada this carol is often sung to the tune of an English country melody Noel, composed in 1874 by Arthur Sullivan.
I have transcribed the lyrics below, with the often omitted peacetime third stanza in italics.

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 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 o'er its babel sounds
The blessed 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 give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Rev. Edmund H. Sears
from Wikimedia Commons

Listen to Julie Andrews sing this Christmas carol:

Blog Caroling from previous years:

2009 "Christmas in Boston"

2010  "Jingle Bells"

2011 "The Holly and the Ivy"

2012 "O Little Town of Bethlehem"

2013  "Si Me Dan Pasteles"

2014  "Over the River and Through the Woods"

2016 "O Holy Night"
2017 "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day"   


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Blog Caroling 2018 “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear” ", Nutfield Genealogy, posted December 20, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

1 comment:

  1. I always liked this one! Thanks for providing all the verses. There were several I hadn't heard.