Tonight I listened to an 89-year-old Iraqi woman sing a Christmas hymn in Arabic, as her son played the guitar. He’s one of the many students my husband taught and mentored over the years, and I am grateful when I catch such beautiful glimpses of their lives via Facebook. It made me realize that before I end my carol series, I will have to post some of my favorite Arabic carols as well.
Listening to that saint sing just made me sit quiet and take it in. I paid attention to the words, but also to her face, which displayed her desire to sing this as a true offering of praise to the Lord. May I be singing as loud and clear at 89, if the Lord grants me the years.
So, I come to the song for today, It Came upon a Midnight Clear.* If you notice by the dates attributed to the author, it was not written yesterday, and yet the middle two stanzas seem to jump out of our daily news feed:
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!
All 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!
In a world where men war with men, and men struggle under the burdens of life, this carol reminds us that the only way to hear the song of good news is to hush the noise and rest. That’s been God’s message to me lately, and I’m not even under the load that those without Christ know. I’m learning to hush the noise of the world (by turning some things off and keeping my phone at a distance) and just resting (that means not “doing”, in case you were wondering).
If God was telling me to hush and rest, then I can’t imagine how much the world needs to do the same. It’s so sad to think that so many are missing the song completely. Maybe if we, who follow Christ, choose to walk a different path, take a different way in observing Christmas, then others will take notice and be drawn to the sound of angels that surround us. I heard the angels sing through an 89-year-old tonight.
Have you heard the angels this season? This year? Maybe it’s time to hush and rest.
*WORDS: Edmund H. Sears, 1810-1876. MUSIC: Richard Storrs Willis, 1819-1900.