Monday, December 17, 2012

Ten Christmas Hymns--Day Two: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

This hymn blends remembrances of the Lord's first coming with anticipation of His second coming.

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, 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 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 send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

—Edmund Sears, 1849

The fourth verse holds one of my favorite carol quotes: “Rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing.” It speaks of taking time to rest, time to notice, time to listen.

Everything in my life is easier when I am rested. I am a nicer mom. I make wiser choices about food and finances. I am more alert to read my Bible. Of course sometimes I am tired due to things I can't control, but other times I am tired because I make the choice to stay up later than I should. Practicing the discipline of stillness means doing what I can to be rested, and trusting the Lord to be my strength when my circumstances do not allow me to be physically rested.

Between now and Christmas Day, I'm posting the hymns I quoted in Practicing GloryThis Bible study explores ten spiritual disciplines, what the scripture says about them, and how we can put them into practice. Think of the disciplines as a gift guide--gifts of worship you can offer to the Greatest Giver of all. I used "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear" in the chapter on Stillness.

photo credit: Niall McAuley via photopin cc

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