I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This carol, one of my favorites, was written as a poem during the American Civil War by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after his son was injured fighting for the Union army. Interestingly, two verses are usually left out of our modern singings that refer explicitly to the North/South conflict (included below). Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas Day. As Hate did its best to silence the chiming bells with cannon fire and the splitting of a Nation on both sides, they burst forth with peals of hope proclaiming that God is alive and with us, and they echo through time to us now, reminding us once again this Advent that, at the Last Day, “the Wrong shall fail, the Right prevail, with peace on Earth, goodwill to Men.”

Pedro the Lion’s version, singing the John Calkin tune, is good stuff:

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – Pedro The Lion from Nolan Gray on Vimeo.

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.”

About Daniel Hautamaki

Husband of the best wife and dad of the coolest kids in Tallahassee, FL. Weapon of choice: guitar with a banjo backup. Hymns keep me sane, the Spirit keeps me persevering. Soli Deo Gloria.

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