25 Days of Christmas Songs – Day 21
When I picked today’s songs, I thought I’d pick a couple that might depict the kind of night we’d all be having after everything shut down and the world collapsed as a result of today being 12-21-12.
Ok, not really, it just worked out that way.
If, however, you find yourself without power but you still have internet access, these might be the perfect, peaceful songs for you to enjoy this evening. Both of our carols for this day were written by pastors, another interesting coincidence.
The original lyrics for Stille Nacht were written by Father Joseph Mor and the music was composed a while later by Franz Xaver Gruber (No, not the guy from Die Hard). There are several stories about this song that seem to either be made up, or at least unverifiable. The first being that the organ was broken, so Fr. Mor had Gruber write music for the song so they could have music for their Christmas Eve service. Could be true, but no evidence. Another story says that the song was largely forgotten after its first use and wasn’t used again until the organ repairman found the music in 1825. However, Gruber published a version of the song in 1820, which would lend one to believe that’s not true either.
What is most likely is that Fr. Mor wanted a new carol for Christmas and asked Gruber to write some music. I guess it’s just such a great carol that people expect it to be magical in its creation. Some songs are just good.
Regardless of all that, it is one of our most beloved Christmas Carols. I hope you enjoy my arr. of it from my Christmas CD, “When The Snow Falls.”
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Edmund Sears, pastor of the Unitarian church in Wyland, Massachusetts, wrote a five stanza poem in 1849. The poem has been set to two tunes, the first and most popular being “carol” written by Richard Storrs Willis (who studied under Felix Mendelssohn) and “Noel” a traditional english melody. The version we sing is the one from “Carol.”
One of the reasons I love this song, is because of it’s message for those among us who are struggling. It’s easy to think everything is “merry and bright” at Christmastime. But, how many people do you know who are going through something difficult? I know we are. I know we have in the past. I also know many who are and who have struggled through the holiday season. So, as you enjoy this song, perhaps you could say a prayer for someone you know who could use a little help carrying life’s “crushing load” this Christmas.
- 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, goodwill 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 o’er its Babel sounds
- The blessèd 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 give back the song
- Which now the angels sing.
— Original five-stanza hymn via wikipedia.