I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…

I first heard this song on Casting Crowns’ Christmas album which I bought recently and did a little research on this lesser known carol. It was actually based on a poem with the same title by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. When the poem was written in 1864, America was then in a civil war. Thus, his poem reflected the prior years of the war’s despair, yet ended with his confident hope of triumphant peace.

Fast forward to 2008, and our world is none the better. Terrorism and threats of terrorism are looming everywhere. Economic crises are happening across the world almost on a daily basis. Peace on earth seems more like a fairytale than an eventual reality. It is so easy for us to lose hope and question where is God in all this chaos. Yet, we must remind ourself just like the poet did, that surely God is not dead nor does he sleep.

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!”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

P/S: Our hearts are saddened as we received the much-dreaded news this morning that a dear pastor had gone home to be with the Lord after being taken ill suddenly 2.5 weeks ago. If you know the family, would you say a prayer for them right now?

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Posted on December 11, 2008, in Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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