The Bells of Christmas

Baptist Church 1881
Typical (Baptist) church building – 1881

Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

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.”

Do you know the story behind the (poem) song? My sister who lives in Puerto Rico, sent this article to me in a Christmas letter. I had not read it before and found it interesting. I think you will as well.

“Christmas Bells” was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow close to the end of the Civil War. Not only had he faced the despair of the war, but his life at this time was one of despair. In 1861 the Civil War began and that same year his wife died in a fire in their library. Henry tried to smother the flames that were burning her dress by wrapping his arms around her. His face, arms and hands were severely burned and he was too ill from his burns and grief to attend her funeral.

The Christmas after her death he wrote: “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”

Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son, Charles, had been severely wounded.

Listen to his sadness as he wrote, “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!'”

But on Christmas day of 1864 he wrote the poem “Christmas Bells.”

With all he had been through he wrote in the last verse, “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!”

– Copied

In all that we may be required to endure, let us never forget the last line that Longfellow wrote in his poem!

Mal 3:2┬áBut who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he [is] like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
Be Sociable, Share!
This entry was posted in Baptists, Songs and Poems and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *