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 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 over its Babel sounds
The blessèd 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.
The first 3 of 5 verses.
Words by Edmund H. Sears, December 29, 1849. Sears is said to have written these words at the request of his friend, W. P. Lunt, a minister in Quincy, Massachusetts; the hymn was first sung at the 1849 Sunday School Christmas celebration
Dr. Edmund Sears was trying to create an uplifting Christmas sermon for his congregation in 1849. Sears was a man who served the poor and needy and urged his fellow Christians to do the same, yet he wanted to pen a message that would share the light of the world with both his flock and those they served.
Inspired by Luke 2:8-9, he wrote the rough draft of a Christmas poem. Then, he combined it with a poem he had written years earlier. Sears presented the finished poem to his congregation and also had it published in a magazine of which he was also editor, hoping to spur the community on to good works in the name of Christ.
The second part of the story belongs to a composer and music critic by the name of Richard Storrs Willis. How he came across the poem is unknown, but Willis combined the words with a song he had composed earlier called, simply, Carol. This adaptation became the Christmas carol we know today. In both World War I and II, American soldiers sang this song during the holidays--as much for its celebration of Christ's birth as for its message of peace on earth and service among mankind
Did you know that in 2012, worldwide lottery sales topped $275 billion? Since the 2001 terrorist attack, Americans have spent as much on lotteries as the US military has spent on the war in Afghanistan: $532.6 billion. Yet the odds of winning any of those lotteries are nearly impossible.
This is the season when a familiar question begins echoing in homes throughout the land: What do you want for Christmas? Peace is one of the gifts of Advent. In a world that seems to think more about winning the lottery than promoting peace, peace is one of the greatest gifts we need right now.
Compared to the actual promise of Christmas, though, even the most ambitious wish lists fall short. Winning the lottery would mean nothing if we compared that to the gift of Peace in our world.
May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!