Unsung: By prophet bards foretold

The text “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear,” written by Unitarian minister Edward Sears, included haunting verses about war and social inequity. Nowadays, there are several versions of the hymn, as different denominations (including the LDS church) have altered the words in one form or other. The original words remain well worth reading (and singing) this Christmas season:

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 Heaven’s all gracious King.”
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come
With peaceful wings unfurled,
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 over its Babel sounds
The blessed 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.

And 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 hastening 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 send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

7 comments for “Unsung: By prophet bards foretold

  1. I’ve been doing a “guess which Carol” post on Facebook the last few weeks, and it’s been interesting digging up obscure verses that are relevant to today, for instance: In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted; Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed. Therefore, Christian men, be sure, wealth or rank possessing, Ye who now will bless the poor, shall yourselves find blessing. The last line reminds me of President Monson.

  2. Most people have no idea what Wenceslas was looking for and less yet that his page struggled to help him in his works!

    I have loved ICUTMC since I was a child, and I always love to find full texts of familiar songs. That makes this a double treat. I wonder how many prophets were bards. David certainly was a musician and wrote psalms that are considered prophetic. Are there any others among the ancient prophets known to have written songs? I wonder as I wonder.

  3. Yes, most people don’t want to remember, that there are those, who are much worse off. That our prime responsibility is to bear one another’s burdens. And that it was the adult Jesus, that fulfilled the Atonement.

  4. Velska, sure it was the adult Jesus, but I still prefer praying to the baby Jesus. You know, like this: “Dear Lord baby Jesus, lyin’ there in your ghost manger, just lookin’ at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin’ ’bout shapes and colors. I would like to thank you for bringin’ me and my mama together, and also that my kids no longer sound like retarded gang-bangers.”

  5. I used the extra verses from Wenceslas as the basis for a Sac. Mtg. Talk I gave last Christmas. It really touches my heart.

  6. This is great. I sang the whole thing aloud just now a capella and it holds a lot of meaning for me and my family right now, esepecially.

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