A Hymn of Peace from a Stressed-Out Pastor

Do you wish the world would be a more peaceful place?

Some conflicts are fought with tanks and missiles. Others are fought with lawyers, media platforms, and other forms of exerting power. Too often, homes and workplaces are the battlegrounds where personal wars are waged.

Conflict is a sad fact of life.

The writer of “It Came upon the Midnight Clear” longed for peace. Edmond Sears, a pastor, struggled with inner conflict. After a nervous breakdown, he reduced his workload to part-time status at a small church. He longed for personal peace.

He also wrote on the heels of the Mexican-American War. Many people believe that his disillusionment with war factored into the lyrics.

The hymn is unique by focusing mostly on the modern world. Verse one says, “It came,” referring to the angels’ message of peace coming to shepherds. Verse two begins, “Still through the cloven skies they come.” From that point forward, the focus is on the angels’ message of peace coming into our world today.

All four verses of the hymn contain the word “peace.” Verse three is a direct reference to Isaiah 9:6. The hymn verse says, “The Prince was born to bring us peace.”

For Jesus, the path to peace was through conflict. Scorned and rejected, He died to forgive our sins. Only by sins forgiven do we have peace with God. Romans 5:1: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

This is the peace that matters most. Unless you’re at peace with God, you’re not really at peace. By knowing that we have an eternal home with God, our hearts can find true and lasting peace. With hearts at rest, we can be instruments of peace in our world.

God’s gift of peace is for you. And for the world around us.

For an expanded version of this message, check out last week’s midweek Advent service below! To go straight to the sermon and carol of the day, skip ahead to 15:15. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel if you haven’t already!

For an article on Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9), click here.

Published by Christopher Kennedy

Senior Pastor at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, School, and Child Care in San Antonio, Texas. Husband to my beloved Ashley. Dad to the four most wonderful children in the world.

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