The midnight hour
When peaceful stillness compassed everything
and the night in its swift course was half spent,
Your all-powerful word, from heaven’s royal throne bounded...
The rest of the passage, however, diverges from the common depiction of Christmas: instead of a peaceful child, a loving mother, and pious shepherds, there is the wrath of God on a doomed land, followed by a flashback to the Red Sea.
In this context, what leaps from heaven at midnight is the angel of death visiting the last and most deadly plague upon Egypt.
And yet the passage also stands as a prophecy of the Messiah’s coming. Our Lord’s own words help reinforce this understanding.
Do not think that I have come
to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace
but the sword.
For I have come
to set a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one's enemies will be those of his household.
We all have these midnight hours in our lives: a moments when God comes and sets before us a choice – life or death, God or oblivion, truth or lies, self-sacrifice or self-destruction.
May the Lord Jesus give us the grace to chose wisely and may he gather us with the blessed.