It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, the Song and the Story

Composer Edward Hamilton Sears Writes It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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Edward Hamilton Sears(1820-1876) was a graduate of Harvard Divinity School and a minister within the Unitarian Church. In 1849, at the request of a friend, Sears wrote a poem he called It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It was published in the Boston Christian Register that same year.

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Richard Storrs Willis (1819-1900), music critic for the New York Tribune, and editor of the Musical Times was inspired to put music to Sears' poem.

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It Came Upon a Midnight Clear was first sung at an 1849 Sunday School celebration. It has been enjoyed by millions ever since.

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It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

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.

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.

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,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

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Written by: Connie Ruth Christiansen