Hark! The Herald Banjo Rings
"It Came Upon The Midnight Clear" (also known as "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear") is a poem and carol written by Edmund Sears (1810-1876), who was a Unitarian pastor in Wayland, MA. He wrote the poem in 1849 at the request of his friend W.P. Lunt, a minister in Quincy, and it first appeared in print on December 29, 1849 in Boston's Christian Register. A melody exists for the poem in two versions: one set by Sir Arthur Sullivan on a traditional English air, and another by Richard Willis (1819-1900), which is the one most recognized and heard here in Mark's piano rendition. Mark recorded the carol using a Yamaha piano sample, an Akai MPK-88 Keyboard Controller and his office IMac with Logic Studio software.
While the full song includes five stanzas, most Protestant hymnals omit the third stanza. Several variations also exist to Sears' original lyrics.
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Performed by Mark Gionfriddo on piano
Words: Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1849.
Music: CAROL, Richard Storrs Willis, 1850.
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 o'er 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 give back the song
Which now the angels sing.