20 December 2021
Finding silence to hear the Angels sing
At my house, the roar of traffic on the A12 is a constant companion. We all live in a very noisy world, whether it’s the noise of traffic, telephones, or (this time of year) the endless Christmas background music in shops. And if it’s not external noise, it’s our own internal soundtrack of anxiety about COVID, or work, or climate change, or our children, and so on. We might ask just where is the promised peace of the new-born Christ Child, the baby who was foretold as the coming “Prince of Peace”?
It came upon the midnight clear, is a favourite carol for many, and it contains that wonderful image of the world falling silent in the middle of the night on that first Christmas Eve to hear the angels sing to the shepherds on the hillside outside Bethlehem; telling of the birth of Jesus, the long-promised Messiah. The carol goes on to remind us that the noise and clamour of our world is threatening to overpower and drown out the love song of the angels – perhaps even more true today than when the words were written in 1849. If only we could find some silence to hear the angels sing again – and there are so many in our world who need, desperately, to hear that song of peace, love and joy. The first verse of It came upon the midnight clear offers a wonderful image of the hope we cling to - that one day, that longed-for peace will come and we will all join in the angels’ song.
In the busyness and noise of this Christmas season, my hope and prayer for us all is that we can find at least a few moments of peace and quiet to pause and reflect on the true heart of Christmas – and perhaps even hear the angels sing once more at the birth of the Saviour.
The Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani
Bishop of Chelmsford