I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Christmas Day, 1864.  The nation was rent asunder in the midst of the Civil War when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the poem “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  The original had seven stanzas, two relating to the war that was going on.  I encourage you to read them, but for the sake of this post at this time, I want to focus on the five hymn stanzas:

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!

 
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.”

Reading the words to this hymn this morning during church, I wept.  Those last two versus got to me.  “There is no peace on earth, I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good-will to men.”  Following the horrific events of last Friday morning, it’s easy to see how strong hate is.  Obviously, there’s the hate Americans – parents especially – feel toward the shooter, but my social media feeds have been blowing up with arguments about ways to make sure this never happens again.  Friend against friend, Christian against Christian. Hearts are breaking still, and how does Jesus call us to respond?  With prayer.  When we pray for those families who lost loved ones – children as well as parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters – we surround them with love.  We should also pray for the shooter’s brother, whose mom and brother both died that day.

There’s hope, though.  “God is not dead nor doth he sleep.  The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, good-will to men.”  We have the assurance that, while Satan may have taken the day in this particular battle, God claims the ultimate victory.  Therein lies the true hope of Christmas.

To hear a lovely rendition of the song, click here.

I’ve got another blog post or two in mind following my reflections after the school shooting last week, so keep checking back, or subscribe and know exactly when I post new articles.

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One response to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

  1. Pingback: Bells of Christmas… « MKG- Memories-Keepsakes-Gifts

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