What Are You Singing? ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’

What rekindles our worship and wonder, causing us to reflect and repent, prompting us to hope and rejoice in this particular season of Advent? Perhaps the same spirit that moved abolitionists, advocates, and allies to pen our favorite holiday hymns can remind us of our reasons to rejoice.

It came upon a midnight clear — that is the words of this carol came to Rev. Edmund Sears, an abolitionist, in 1849, while recovering from a personal breakdown. The nation itself was recovering from the Mexican-American War, and wrestling over slavery. Sears pulled the worship of the angels from the pages of Luke’s gospel into his present context — and into ours.

“Peace on the earth, good will to men
From heaven’s all-gracious King.”

“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” continues to remind a suffering world that in times of darkness, heaven points us to God’s peace in unexpected places and to show goodwill toward all humankind.