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Sears, Edmund Hamilton (6th April 1810-14th January 1876)

He was a minister, author and poet born on a farm in Sandfield, Massachusetts as the youngest of three boys whose parents instilled in him a sense of moral duties and his father was the person that taught him poetry appreciation.  Even though his assisting his parents on their farm had entailed many missed days from school, he entered Union College in Schenectady, New York, and after graduation in 1834 he followed it studying law for nine months and teaching at an Academy in Vermont.

Becoming interested in the work of William Ellery Channing and Henry Ware, who were Boston divines, he attended the Theological School based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after leaving he became a missionary and preached in Toledo, Ohio from 1837.   He was ordained as a minister in February 1839 in Wayland, Massachusetts, and he preached there and several other Unitarian congregations in Greater Boston.

Often writing poetry and other works he wrote the Christmas carol “Calm on the Listening Ear” and in December 1849 he was asked by W. Lunt, who was a Unitarian minister, to write a Christmas poem for a Sunday School service.  This is when he came up with “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” which would become an extremely popular Christmas carol the world over.

 An influential author he produced several publications from 1853 and these include Regeneration, The Fourth Gospel, The Heart of Christ and Sermons and Songs of the Christian Live.  As an editor he co-edited The Monthly Religious Magazine for 12 years with Rev. R. Ellis.

He took a respite from preaching to turn to writing full-time after the end of the Civil War, but he returned to the church in 1866 to succeed the minister in Weston, Massachusetts.

In 1874 he fell from a tree while doing some work in his garden and this resulted in his being in virtual constant pain from then on.  He died in Weston, Massachusetts in January 1876 when he was 65 years old.

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear recordings
Leroy Anderson and His Orchestra

Decca B0003552-02 (CD: A Leroy Anderson Christmas)

Robert Shaw Chorale
RCA 6429 – 2 – RG (CD: A Festival of Carols)
Arrangers – Robert Shaw/Alice Parker