What are the lyrics to ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’?

Inspired by war, the popular carol 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear' was written in the mid-19th century by an American pastor dismayed by the turmoil engulfing the world. Here are its lyrics

What are the lyrics to 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear'?

Who wrote ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’?

Originating in USA, this Christmas carol was written in a 1849 by Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Wayland, Massachusetts.

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Today it is popular across the world although it is sung to two different melodies. In the USA it is sung to ‘Carol’ a tune written for the poem in 1850 by Richard Storrs Willis.

In Commonwealth countries, it is sung to’Noel’, which Arthur Sullivan adapted from an English melody.

What is the meaning of the song ‘It Came Upon a Midnight Clear’?

It is believed Sears was affected by the revolutions of Europe and the Mexican–American War, and that it was these events that inspired the melancholic tones of the poem, which accuses the world of being full of ‘sin and strife’ and ignoring the Christmas message.

What are the lyrics to ‘It came upon the 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 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 o’er its babel sounds
The blessed 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.

And 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.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

You can find lyrics to some of your favourite Christmas carols here

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Top image credit: Getty Images