“It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.”
On a night over two thousand years ago, angels bent near the earth and shepherds heard their song. It was a song whose words were so desperately needed, and whose melody soothed the souls of the deeply troubled. It was a time, much like any other time: there was conflict; there were wars and rumours of wars; the poor went unfed and the rich sat in lofty places; there were broken hearts and broken spirits. But a song broke through it all and announced that into the lives of a people who had suffered long, with woe and strife, with sin and sadness, was coming a Saviour who would bring peace. That message was desperately needed then, and it is no less desperately needed today.
The words of that beloved hymn, It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, penned by Unitarian minister Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876) remind us that the message of the angels is not simply a message that was sung in distant times to long-forgotten shepherds, it is a message that angels still sing to us today. The angel strain has continued to roll amidst “two thousand years of wrong.” It is still sung, Sears contends, but “man, at war with man, hears not, the love song which they bring.” Yet, if we hush the noise, we may still “hear the angels sing.”
So in these days which are “hastening on” we would do well do listen, for if we do, we shall surely yet hear that love song about which Sears wrote. It is a love song sung by angels proclaiming the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus IS God’s love song for a broken and hurting world. Jesus IS God’s love song to his weary and worn-out children. Jesus IS God’s love song for you and for me. It is Jesus that the angels proclaim in song and sacred melody. Let us open our eyes to see them “touch their harps of gold,” let us open our ears to “hear the blessed angels sing,” and let us open our hearts to the one about whom they sing, that “the whole world might give back the song, which now the angels sing.”
A blessed Christmastime to each of you and your families,
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves