It Came Upon A Midnight Clear

I think I was about 10 years old when this became my favourite carol. It is full of reality and yet hope. Phrases like “Two thousand years of wrong” and “Men at war with man” deeply affected me – and still do. The writer tells it like it is and writes of “life’s crushing load” and “the weary road” and yet speaks about “peace on the whole earth ” and “the love song which they (the angels) bring”.


In spite of the doom and gloom that the carol speaks about, there is “an age of gold” when “peace shall over ALL the earth, Its ancient splendors fling, and the WHOLE world give back the song which now the angels sing!”

So to a ten-year old this carol brought hope to a young man troubled by what he saw of the world around him. And 64 years later these words still bring hope in the midst of chaos.

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 heav’n’s all-gracious King.
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing!

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!

Still thro’ the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurl’d;
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.

All 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:
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo! the days are hast’ning on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing!


Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

2 thoughts on “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear”

  1. Impossible to measure the power of a song, we just know they are.
    As Thomas Merton says ” Every moment and every event of everyman’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men.”

    We pray our own songs and words become winged seeds of hope bringing life to others that that carol did to you.

    Thanks George.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you George. A glorious hope that is still being realised by people like yourself who are bringing peace by being Jesus to hurting people. May you have a blessed Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: