Christmas Bells - Part I

In December, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received word that his son Charles, a lieutenant in the Union Army, had been wounded in battle. Afterwards, Longfellow was inspired to write the poem "Christmas Bells." Its message is as timely and comforting today, as it was in the dark days of the Civil War:

Christmas Bells
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

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, accursèd 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."

Most of us are probably more familiar with the Christmas Carol on which the poem is based. If you are interested in learning more about this subject, please follow me to the Music Room.

Pat, Director of Library Services
Brisbee Bookmobile


~Sources~

The Time-Life Book of Christmas, Prentice Hall Press, 1987.

The Christmas Carol Soldier


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