Listen for the angels

“The world in solemn stillness lay,

“To hear the angels sing…”

“It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” by Edmund Sears, 1849

Edmund Sears, a Unitarian minister in Wayland, Mass., wrote the poem and carol, “It Came Upon The Midnight Clear” in 1849, but its message is so relevant that he could have written it last week.

He writes of a “weary world” suffering from the “woes of sin and strife.” The angel choir he writes of came on that First Christmas to announce the glad news of the birth of the Savior. But their message is drowned out:

“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.”

Today “the woes of sin and strife” dominate the news. We hear daily updates of new accussations of sexual harrassment and predation by prominent men; we hear the latest reports of the backbiting and calumniation that passes for political debate today; we hear reports of protests and counterprotests over social wrongs real and imagined.

But tonight, on Christmas Eve, let us stop and listen. Let us turn off the TV, put down our phones and go outside into the crisp, cold air. Let us listen in the solemn stillness to hear the angels sing.