Posted by: rcottrill | April 6, 2010

Today in 1810 – Edmund Sears Born

Edmund Hamilton Sears attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, and Harvard Divinity School. He pastored several Unitarian churches in Massachusetts, and also helped to edit the Monthly Religious Magazine.

It is common for Unitarians, as their name suggests, to believe in the singularity of the Person of God, denying the doctrine of the Trinity. To them, Christ is a great man and a prophet, but they reject His deity (or divinity). However, Edmund Sears, though he associated himself with the Unitarians, had a much higher view of Christ. He wrote on one occasion to Anglican bishop Edward Bickersteth and said, “Though I was educated in the Unitarian denomination, I believe and preach the divinity of Christ.”

Sears has given us two Christmas hymns: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, and Calm on the Listening Ear of Night. Though the former is better known, in my view the latter is superior. (Both songs may be sung to the same tune.)

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.

“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!”

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!

(2) Today in 1828 Jeremiah Ingalls Died
During his lifetime, Jeremiah Ingalls was a farmer, a cooper (barrel maker) a tavern keeper, and a singing teacher. In Newbury, Vermont, he became a deacon and choir director of the Congregational church, and he compiled The Christian Harmony (also called The Songster’s Companion), a significant collection of folk hymns. Ingalls moved to Rochester, Vermont, after a falling out with the church in Newbury. He has given us both words and music of a simple hymn called I Love Thee.

I love Thee, I love Thee, I love Thee, my Lord;
I love Thee, my Saviour, I love Thee, my God;
I love Thee, I love Thee, and that Thou dost know;
But how much I love Thee my actions will show.

O Jesus, my Saviour, with Thee I am blessed.
My life and salvation, my joy and my rest.
Thy name be my theme, and Thy love be my song;
Thy grace shall inspire both my heart and my tongue.

Oh, who’s like my Saviour? He’s Salem’s bright King;
He smiles and He loves me and helps me to sing:
I’ll praise him, I’ll praise Him with notes loud and clear,
While rivers of pleasure my spirit shall cheer.


  1. […] Register. Fifteen years earlier, Sears had written another carol (that I believe is superior), Calm on the Listening Ear of Night. But here is a sample stanza of It Came Upon the Midnight […]


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