Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

A few Sundays ago in church, the minister shared the story behind the lyrics of the Christmas song, "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day."

I know this Christmas song and have always enjoyed the differed quality to this Christmas ballad than the other jolly Christmas song.  This melancholy song full of heart thoughts is an honest and beautiful testament of God's goodness in a tumultuous world.

What I did not know is that the song was originally a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War after Longfellow's son (who enlisted in the Union Army without his father's blessing) was severely injured and going to be crippled for the rest of his life and Longfellow's wife died from injuries related to a house fire.  On Christmas day 1864, the Civil War was still raging and Longfellow's world was shattering, and he wrote the poem "Christmas Bells".  In 1872, the poem was put to music and it became the Christmas song, I still enjoy today, "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day"

Something I love about this song is that, every life will have a hard Christmas.  Every person, even a Christian with an incredibly strong faith will have a Christmas where they are in mourning, when the world is in turmoil, when their world is in chaos, when their family has changed and traditions are not enough to capture the magic and wonder of Christmas.

Every Christian has that one year, or those Christmas years when "In despair I bow my head, there is no peace on earth, I said"... and then the faith returns, "God is not dead nor doth He sleep..."

I pray for you, even in the darkest Christmas, that you Hear the Bells on Christmas Day and are reminded that Jesus was sent to be a light amongst the darkness and He has conquered the grave and darkness of the world.  God is Good every Christmas, no matter your circumstances.


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.

I 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.

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."

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!

In case you have not heard the song, please take the time to listen today.

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