We are taking turns introducing songs on Sundays, and fitting to the season a few related to Christmas have surfaced.
Now, to me, this song is an easy Christmas carol to ignore. And i almost did.
It does not possess a particularly catchy melody, is a waltz with lots of old world words and phrasing, and is a bit repetitive, thus not much of a musical journey. However, the beauty of this song isn’t necessarily on the surface, but rather in what lies beneath it.
- First, it is a Christmas carol that never specifically mentions Christ. I can’t name many such others… can you?
- Second, it was written as a protest song. And Lord knows I love a good protest song. Since its birth in 1776, U.S. soil has hosted only one war, known as the Civil War or the War Between the States (Abraham Lincoln was president during this period). Seems the author was disgusted with the idea of brothers-fighting-brothers in a so-called “Christian” nation, as expressed in the 2nd verse (verse 3 addresses our personal struggles as well, as man often battles within himself).
- Lastly, rather than mentioning the birth of Christ, the writer discusses the significance of God predicted coming to earth in human form. He eventually acknowledges that many humans will choose to ignore this message of good news, and that the true impact of this Peace won’t be completely experienced until Christ’s return.
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 heavens all gracious King!”
The world in solemn stillness lay
To hear the angels sing.
“But 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!”
O 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;
Oh 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 the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
The whole world then sends back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Turns out this is a powerful song deserving our consideration after all.