The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Calm on the Listening Ear of Night

A Hymn For Christmas

Words: Edmund Hamilton Sears, 1834.

Music: "St. Agnes," John Bacchus Dykes, 1866.
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Alternate tune: Bethlehem.
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Meter: C. M. D

1. Calm on the listening ear of night
Come heaven's melodious strains,
Where wild Judea stretches forth
Her silver mantled plains.
Celestial choirs from courts above
Shed sacred glories there,
And angels, with their sparkling lyres,
Make music on the air.

2. The answering hills of Palestine
Send back the glad reply;
And greet, from all their holy heights,
The Day-Spring from on high.
O'er the blue depths of Galilee
There comes a holier calm,
And Sharon waves, in solemn praise,
Her silent groves of palm.

3. "Glory to God!" the lofty strain
The realm of ether fills;
How sweeps the song of solemn joy
O'er Judah's sacred hills!
"Glory to God!" the sounding skies
Loud with their anthems ring,
"Peace to the earth; good will to men,
From heaven's eternal King!"

4. Light on thy hills, Jerusalem!
The Savior now is born,
And bright on Bethlehem's joyous plains
Breaks the first Christmas morn.
And brightly on Moriah's brow
Crowned with her temple spires,
Which first proclaim the newborn light,
Clothed with its orient fires.

5. This day shall Christian tongues be mute,
And Christian hearts be cold?
Oh, catch the anthem that from heaven
O'er Judah's mountains rolled.
When burst upon that listening night
The high and solemn lay:
"Glory to God, on earth be peace,"
Salvation comes today!

Sheet Music by Edward J. Hopkins from Rev. Charles Lewis Hutchins, Carols Old and Carols New (Boston: Parish Choir, 1916), Carol #612
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Sheet Music from J. P. McCaskey, ed., Franklin Square Song Collection, No. 1. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1881, p. 115.

McCaskey gives the title "Calm On The Ear Of Night."

Sheet Music from Devonshire arranged by Mr. H. S. Irons from Rev. Richard R. Chope, Carols For Use In Church (London: William Clowes & Sons, 1894), Carol #40
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Note: Roy Ringwald gives additional settings by John Edgar Gould and a Folk Hymn-Tune. Book Of American Carols (Penn State University, 2004).

Also found as multiple four-line stanzas in J. G. Adams and E. H. Chapin, eds., Hymns for Christian Devotion - Especially Adapted to the Universalist Denomination. Boston: Abel Tompkins, 1853, #202 (meter: C. M.).

Dr. Sears was also the author of the beautiful It Came Upon The Midnight Clear (1859) and other Nativity poetry, and several books on religious topics. In addition, he was the editor for the Boston-based Monthly Religious Magazine from 1859 to 1871.

Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in a Lecture given at the Lowell Institute in Boston, described this carol as "one of the finest and most beautiful ever written."

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