Carol singing is popular this time of year. Maybe door-to-door caroling not so much, but the familiar tunes echo through every store, mall and gathering place. Christmas pageants are filled with them. They’re on the radio nonstop. Even we Advent observers are itching to sing them, and do. There is one in particular that haunts me each Christmas season because it speaks such an uncomfortable truth. If I am ever forced to live on a desert isle with only one Christmas carol, this would be it.
It Came upon the Midnight Clear
Edmund Sears (1810-1876)
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 all gracious King. The world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.
Still though 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 the tidings which 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 heavenly hymn have rolled two thousand years of wrong;
And warring human kind hears not the tidings which they bring;
O hush the noise and cease your strife 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 peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
And all the world give back the song with now the angles sing.