Christmas: 1924, by Thomas Hardy
'Peace upon earth!' was said. We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We've got as far as poison gas.
And then, during the liturgy this morning, we sang this hymn, and I paid attention to words I hadn't paid much attention to before.
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 earth, good will to men,
from heaven's gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay
to hear the angels sing.
Still through the cloven skies they come
with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats
o'er all the weary world;
above its sad and lowly plains
they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o'er its Babel-sounds
the blessed angels sing.
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
the world has suffered long;
beneath the heavenly hymn have rolled
two thousand years of wrong;
and warring humankind hears not
the tidings which they bring;
O hush the noise and cease your strife
and hear the angels sing!
O ye, beneath life's crushing load
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow;
look now, for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing.
For lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophets seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold,
when the new heaven and earth shall own
the Prince of Peace their King,
and all the world send back the song
which now the angels sing.