Sunday, December 16, 2012

Then Pealed the Bells More Loud and Deep:

Friday morning driving in the car, I heard a beautiful choral arraignment of one of my favorite Christmas songs, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". The words have been circling through my head since and I wanted to share them with you.

Penned on Christmas Day 1864 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this song carries a rare message of hope. 

Contextually, it is important to realize that nearly every day in the year 1864 was marked in blood by the battles of the Civil War. This raging in the streets and backyards of tottering nation is a reality current generations cannot fathom. Our hearthstones have been rent by other earthquakes - but not this scale of war. We have not had our houses shattered. We have not had thousands of the bodies of our dearest strewn across our suburbs and home fields. 

In the preceding years Longfellow's personal life had been devastated by the loss his dear wife to a tragic fire. He himself had been badly burned trying to rescue her from the flames. Later his son, a lieutenant in the Union army, was severely wounded and crippled in battle. These events are the roots of his questions. Questions relevant to us today. 

On hearing the the belling carols mingled with the dichotomous percussion of the deathly cannons, Longfellow wrote from his heart:
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"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!"

~ ~ ~

Dearest friends, 
May the bells resound more loud and deep in your heart this Christmas.
May you know that God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!!!
May you choose the right and by His grace prevail,
May you embody peace on earth, good-will to men!