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It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

Pen & Ink drawing of two angels above New York City

Here’s a page from my current project; I’m illustrating my favorite Christmas carols and hope to present them next year. This is “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” with the angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold.

We’re coming to the end of a year that’s been so hard for so many of us, full of discord and fear for our neighbors, our leaders and the planet, our home.

But there have been hard times before this.

I have a Christmas card sent by my grandparents, probably in 1943, in the midst of World War II, as Hitler raged across Europe. The picture on the front is a church window with advent candles on one side and an American flag on the other. Through the window we see the star of Bethlehem. Inside the message has those familiar words from Luke; “For unto us is born this day in the city of David…” and “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory…”

It’s signed;

Robert, Louise, Dave, Jack, Dan, Janet

and Private Robert Swanson, U.S. Army.

That was my Dad, drafted that June, age18 years and six weeks.

I hold this card in my hand and feel the weight of all those hopes and fears, also pride, patriotism, faith and sacrifice. Those were hard, dark times.

But the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out. They got through their hard times and we’ll get through ours. We’ll learn from our mistakes and try to do better. We’ll work together to seek solutions. I just got an email from Environment New York with a plan to save the bees!

Christmas music is full of words that lift me up and fill my heart with joy. This one especially, because each verse ends with angels singing.

Remember, the first words of every angel appearing on Earth are, “Fear Not!”

My favorite line is the last;

“Now hush the noise and cease your strife and hear the angels sing.”

Pen & Ink drawing of a Christmas Wreath with big red bow

December 30, 2023

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