It Came Upon A Midnight Clear Sheet Music
This familiar carol was built of a poem written by Edmund Hamilton Sears, pastor of the Unitarian Church in Lancaster, MA; it appeared first on December 29, 1849, in the Christian Register (Boston). Sears, a minister who served many congregations during his lifetime, also composed another hymn, Calm on the Listening Ear of Night, as well as being a prolific writer of religious materials.
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear is often sung to differing tunes, depending on which side of the Atlantic you're singing it! Richard Storrs Willis (a pupil of Felix Mendelssohn) wrote a tune he called "Carol," and this is the setting that we are most familiar with in the U.S. In the U.K, another familiar musical name—Arthur Sullivan—adapted a traditional tune called "Noel" in 1874 as the accompaniment to It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. This version even appears (along with the more traditional U.S. tune) in the Hymnal of the U.S. Episcopal Church to this day.
The poem, originally of five stanzas, has been added to over the years—and numerous variations exist even to the original Sears composition. The first verse is probably the most familiar one to all of us, and is generally rendered thus:
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.
Some alterations of the text read "goodwill to all" in place of "goodwill to men," but the gist of the poem remains the same…and the lilting 6/8 meter of the "Carol" tune conveys a very peaceful, tranquil backdrop for the imagery of a world that waits breathlessly to hear the angels sing.
When you play this carol, or sing it, remember the hush of that night—and the glory of angel song. Merry Christmas!
Do you enjoy the piano sheet music and story of "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"? We also have other Christmas sheet music such as "Joy To The World", "Silent Night
", "The First Noel", and many more.