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 heaven’s all-gracious King”: the world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.
This Christmas carol moves us through the Christmas story, into our own lives, and into the future. The “it” is the message of the angels. It arrived when no one expected and brought tidings for which many had long wished. Peace! Peace! As the hymn suggests, the world is weary. The people are crushed by sin and strife. But wonder of wonders, this song is powerful enough to carry over the din.
Though we often only sing two or three verses of this song, the ones we miss are those that speak to us. To the everyday people who need this message of hope. Advent and Christmastide are not easy seasons for many of us – and this song invites us to stop and listen again to the glorious song that we need to hear, too.
So listen to the final three verses:
Yet with the woes of sin and strife the world has suffered long; beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong; and we at war on earth hear not the tidings that they bring; O, hush the noise and cease the strife to hear the angels sing!
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: O, rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels 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 peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors flight, and the whole world give back the song which now the angels sing.
May you find the peace, rest, and hush you need this season.
Reverse Advent Calendar: If you have a relative or neighbor with small children, offer to babysit for a few hours or whole evening, so that parents can get their preparations accomplished and maybe find a few minutes respite for themselves.