Christmas is a time to sing Christmas carols, but how often do we really pay attention to the words? I sing in my church choir and our choir director constantly calls our attention to the words that we are singing so that we can express the emotions and dynamics within that piece.

It Came Upon a Midnight Clear is one carol that is sung every year. Taken from a poem written by Edmund Hamilton Sears in 1849 and composed by Richard Storrs Willis ten years later, I think you’ll find the words are timeless.

I’ve quoted verses three and four here because these express hope for our troubling and stressful times. Many times we’ll know the first verse of a carol, perhaps by memory, but the other verses seem to get tossed aside.

Since this is a poem, I’ve presented it here like a poem:

O 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;
Oh rest beside the weary road
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 the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6