Songs, especially older ones, are often written with a narrative in mind, and many times these older songs have more stanzas than appear in our hymn books. “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” was originally a five-stanza poem written by Edmund Sears in 1849. He was struggling through his own personal issues and the news of the day included the Mexican War and revolution in Europe. His third stanza reads:
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.
In spite of the coming of Christ,
In spite of the hope and joy and peace and love His coming brings,
We struggle. Individually. As families. As communities and as nations.
For many people Christmas is anything but a time of celebration. For many others it means extra stress, a busted budget and lost sleep. The noise of strife around us is great and we don’t hear the love song that is Christmas.
In the last stanza of Mr. Sears’s poem he looks forward to the kingdom, when Christ rules, when peace rules, when everything is set right at last. Yes it is dark now, but there is hope. The birth of Christ is the beginning of that hope. Everything is right on schedule.