I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Hate is strong and mocks the song 🙁

Do you hear the sound of Christmas bells this season? Sadly, 2019 this has been the Christmas song on my mind. I look at the headlines and watch the news. It saddens me that we must be at each other’s throats. We can’t seem to find anything to agree upon. If we do, we don’t dare admit it.

Longfellow wrote this poem in the years of the American Civil War. In many ways, we are again fighting a civil war. Lives are being lost and hate grows strong. May we find peace in Christ this Christmas.

I pray that God will help us find commonality in our lives. In so many ways we all want the same things. I know that true peace will only come when Christ returns to rule the world. I ache for this day. But I also know that God is waiting so that He can save as many as possible.

Do You Hear the Christmas Bells?

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Longfellow’s Complete Poem

Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863. “Christmas Bells” was first published in February 1865, in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.

In 1861, two years before writing this poem, Longfellow’s personal peace was shaken when his second wife of 18 years, to whom he was very devoted, was fatally burned in an accidental fire. Then in 1863, during the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union Army without his father’s blessing.

Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer”, he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.” Charles was soon appointed as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church, Virginia, during the Mine Run Campaign. Charles eventually recovered, but his time as a soldier was finished.

Wikipedia

Let’s listen for the Christmas bells and find the true peace only in the Christ of Christmas.

Longfellow’s Poem Set to Music

In our hymnals, music by Jean Baptiste Calkin, 1872 sounding somewhat like this by the Spartan Dischords

Recently by Casting Crowns

May you find true peace this Christmas

Mandy Farmer

Continued Thoughts: Defiant Joy

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