It Came Upon the Midnight Clear - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

The words of It Came Upon the Midnight Clear (or 'It Came Upon a Midnight Clear') are from a poem written in 1849 by Edmund Sears, who was an American minister.  Two different tunes are commonly used for this carol.  In the United Kingdom, the melody most frequently used is called 'Noel'.  It is an adaption by Sir Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) of a traditional English tune.  In the United States It Came Upon the Midnight Clear is more frequently set to a tune called 'Carol', which was written by Richard Storrs Willis in 1850.  The chords on this page are for the (English) Sullivan tune.

Chords

     D         Bm         G           A
It came upon the midnight clear,

         D            G             D
That glorious song of old,

          D         Bm          G             A
From angels bending near the Earth,

     G                  A7           D
To touch their harps of gold:


             A7                            Bm

"Peace on the earth, goodwill to men,

          A7
From heaven's all-gracious King."

        D            Bm        G            A
The world in solemn stillness lay,

      D            A7        D
To hear the angels sing.

Lyrics

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
Over 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.

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 splendours fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

Other Christmas Carols