The familiar carol, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, was written by Edmund Sears in 1849. It is said that Sears wrote this hymn in response to turmoil of the day, the approaching Civil War and the end of the Mexican-American War. It was a dark time and Sears himself was coming out of a time of what is described as melancholy.
As we’ve practiced this hymn for our choir’s cantata, I’ve been drawn to some of the words which are less familiar to most of us.
“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!”
When we first started rehearsing this song, there was a lot of noise in our world. This fall has been full of ugliness. We are surrounded by reminders that we live in a fallen world. There is lots of noise that comes from “men of strife,” it’s hard not to say “Enough already!”
As I read Psalm 148, I am reminded of the angels singing in the heavens at Jesus’ birth.
“Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens.” Psalm 148: 1,2 ESV
Praise calms the noise in our lives. I can relate to Edmund Sears who longed to hear the angels sing in the midst of the strife of his times. How do we cope when the darkness seems to overtake us? How do we find hope in a world that is full of strife? We give God praise along with the angels, the sun and the moon.
In this second week of Advent, let us find ways to “hush the noise. . . and hear the angels sing!”
What is your favorite carol? What song calms your soul in times of trouble?