Thursday, December 27, 2007

a pleasant shock while caroling

We sang carols in church last Sunday. Traditional ones: Away in a Manger, Silent Night. Just that sort. I like to sing carols. There I was joining in the festive song, using the low range of my voice since they usually pitch a note or two outside my upper range, glancing at the words printed in the program, but singing most of the verses by heart.

Only most. I don't think I've ever previously encountered the third verse of It Came Upon a Midnight Clear. It speaks of the woes of sin and strife, of a world that has suffered long. It says we've endured 2,000 years of wrong: "And warring humankind hears not/The tidings which they* bring" Then it tells us:
O hush the noise and cease your strife
And hear the angels sing;
How have I missed out on this motherly command all these many Christmases of my life?

{click image to view full size. My source.}

*the angels bending near the earth


Must be something about third verses. We also sang the third of Joy to the World and it also has a surprising turn. It speaks of thorns that infest the ground and blessings that flow "far as the curse is found."

1 comment:

Catherine said...

I guess it makes sense to put the things people want to hear in the early, oft-sung verses and save other sentiments for later verses. One of the later verses of God Save the Queen (either third or fourth), for example, is all about subjugating the Scots.