On the last day of Christmas we look back to the message of the angels, but also forward to apply it to our own time.
The Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier was primarily known for his anti-slavery activities; they were the focus of his poetry and his editorship of The National Era and other abolitionist journals. Some biographical sources suggest that Whittier's political activity ceased after the Civil War, but this text from 1873, adapted from his poem A Christmas Carmen, shows his support for the cause of peace.
Sound over all waters, reach out from all lands,
The chorus of voices, the clasping of hands;
Sing hymns that were sung by the stars of the morn,
Sing songs of the angels when Jesus was born!
Sing concord of nations! in chorals of love
Sing out the war-vulture and sing in the dove,
The long night is ending and dawn has begun;
Rise, hope of the ages, arise like the sun!
Blow, bugles of battle, the marches of peace;
East, west, north, and south let the long quarrel cease
Sing the song of great joy from the angels begun,
All speech flow to music, all hearts beat as one!
John Greenleaf Whittier, 1873; adapt.
Tune: LANSING (126.96.36.199.)
Charles H. Gabriel, 1912
This tune by Charles Gabriel first appeared in the Presbyterian Psalter (1912) used with a paraphrase of Psalm 24, Ye gates lift your heads, the glad summons obey. Whittier's text has also been sung to ST DENIO and CRADLE SONG.
In 1982, the text was set to music by composer Paul Halley, organist and music director at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Divine, in honor of Coretta Scott King, who was coming to preach at the cathedral. The piece was first sung on that occasion, and on others since.
Finally, here we are at the end of our twelve days of Christmas music. Hope you have found something interesting that you had not seen before. It's been fun for me but I'm not sure I'll jump to do another long daily series anytime soon!