Monday, December 24, 2007

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day~

These words written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow during the Civil War still resonate today . . . unfortunately. But where there is love there is the hope of peace. Let it begin. Merry Christmas!

I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And mild 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.
“The best Christmas of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another.” ~Unknown

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.

Historical Note: This hymn was written during the American civil war, as reflected by the sense of despair in the next to last stanza of common presentation. The original stanzas 4 and 5 (below) speak of the battle, and are usually omit­ted from hymnals:

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.


Voyager said...

Peace on Earth. A lofty hope, but worth the wishing. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

rain said...

Hope you are enjoying time with your family and a well deserved break!

Ross said...

I'd never read the two omitted verses from "I Heard the Bells" ... awfully moving, even now, with that conflict over. There are one or two verses from the English National Anthem (God Save The Queen) that are now omitted ... about slaughtering the damnable Scots. Perhaps, from time to time, we should read such things in perspective.

Ruth D~ said...

Thank you all, and those who replied off-blog, too. Christmas is . . . Christmas. It comes across as a one size fits all holiday, but it isn't.

Ross!~ I'm so happy to see you here. :>) Not in my email, but HERE!

Lisa said...

What a fascinating history behind that hymn ~ I never knew!

I hope you and your family are enjoying the holidays!

Barbara said...

It's interesting to know the background of this song which has always resonated with me. Thanks for sharing!

Happy New Year!

Janice Thomson said...

Behind the good is always the bad n'est-ce pas my friend? So it is with Christmas too. It is said sales are down this year - perhaps just perhaps the real meaning of Christmas is slowly coming back?
Let the sparkle in our eye be from love, peace and goodwill...

Josie said...

Ruth, wow, what an interesting story!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. I certainly did, (except for being sick in bed with a cold...)


Wanda said...

Thank you for the carol, the story, and the beautiful little bird in the winter trees. Lovely.

Ruth D~ said...

Josie~ Colds are so common place, but they can be so totally miserable. Seems like the germs lie in wait until a special occasion sometimes. Hope you're back to normal now.

Wanda~ The bird and all his friends love the forsythia outside my kitchen window.