The Blessed Angels Sing
“It came upon a 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 heavens all gracious King!” the world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.”
One of my favorite Christmas carols was written during a time of strife and turmoil in the author’s life, Edmund Hamilton Sears (1810-1876). The United States and the world were in a period of conflict, change and unease. With all the news we hear every day about the strife and turmoil around the world, I find comfort in the words of the angels. It is the message of the angels that told of Christ’s birth.
December is a busy time for most people. I am finishing up my year at work and planning for the next year. There are holiday parties, time shared with friends and family. It can be overwhelming when we think about the lesser, the outcast—so we don’t. We continue on with our hectic schedules and just try to get to Christmas. “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” is important to me at Christmas because it recognizes the world is not perfect, that we are troubled people and still God sent God’s son. The angels aren’t singing to the wealthy and happy—they are reminding us that there is hope.
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. I hear in this song a reminder to slow down, to look around and listen to the sounds of Christmas. We hear in the angel’s song that Christ is born. My hope is restored at Christmas, the promise of a savior, of a chance to start anew. The imagery of the night Christ was born, the message of the angels are reminders of the importance of faith, hope and love in action. The shepherds who first heard the angels’ news did not keep Christ’s coming to themselves; they told the world.
There are many voices constantly in our ears. This month, response features the United Methodist Women Reading Program. Books open us to new perspectives, to lives completely different from our own, held together by a common thread: hope and faith in Christ. As we prepare for the coming of the Christ, prepare for new experiences just by opening a book. Through the business of the season, take many moments to slow down and read something new, pass a book on to a friend or share a story at your local meeting.
This holiday season, I encourage you to hear the voices of the season. Re-listen to your favorite carol and learn about the times in which it was written. Hear your favorite sounds with a different perspective. Read the stories of the women and children in the program to expand your own vision of the world and what Christ brings to your life. Share the good news that Christ is born.
Merry Christmas, dear sisters in Christ. May the light of the world shine in your heart and in your life.