Saturday, December 19, 2015

12 Days of Christmas--Day 6--I heard the Bells on Christmas Day

What?! How are we already halfway through the 12 days of Christmas??? Which means Christmas is only 6 days away! Augh! So much to do, so little time. . .
Well, anyway, here's today's Christmas post. The story behind the Christmas Carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". It is written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

During the American Civil war, Henry's older son, Charles Longfellow, joined the union cause as a soldier without his father's blessing. 
On the 14th of  March, 1863, Henry received a letter form his son stating "I have tried hard to resist the temptation of joining without your leave, but I cannot any longer. I feel it to be my first duty to do whatever I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good."
Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant, but he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign. The news that his sons had been wounded in action, as well as facing another Christmas without his wife who had passed away, inspired Henry to write his poem "Christmas Bells", which we know today as "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day".(Information taken from Wikipedia and my English textbook, paraphrased in my own words)
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."

Wow. This is one of my very favorite Chrismtas carols. The words are so, so good and they are true even for today. It may seem like hate is strong in our world, and it is. But God's love for us is stronger! He loved us so much He sent His son! God is not dead! He is alive and working even in our world today. Everything that is happening in happening because it is part of His greater purpose or plan. We should never worry, because in the end the wrong will fail and God's righteousness will prevail!
This is a really pretty arrangement that I found that also includes the story behind it. I really, really enjoyed listening/watching it, but it does not include all the verses. :)


  1. Wow! This is amazing! That is the theme of our church's Christmas program (tonight!). I actually wrote up a history myself that will be read at the beginning of the play. I printed it here:
    "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" History

    Every year people sing the song "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day", but probably few actually know the history behind this powerful carol. It was written by the famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on December 25th, 1864. Longfellow called his poem "Christmas Bells"; he wrote the poem amidst much turmoil in his country's and personal life. America was being torn by the effects of the Civil War-a four year war- during that time, although peace was coming in several months after Longfellow penned his poem. But personal tragedy was also on his mind when he wrote. July 12th, 1861, his wife, Fanny, was burned when her dress caught fire, and she died the next day. In attempting to smother the flames, Longfellow himself was so severely burnt that when his wife's funeral came, he could not attend. The next two Christmases were sad affairs for Longfellow. His oldest son, Charles, ran away to the army. Nearing the Christmas of 1863, Longfellow would receive word that his son had been shot under the shoulder blades and crippled. But finally, on Christmas Day, 1864, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was able to find the words of this beautiful poem and he wrote them down. The beautiful words, after some rearrangement and omission of the verses specifically speaking of the Civil War, were put to music by John Baptiste Calkin in 1872. And that is the history of this amazing song.

    I was so amazed when my google notifications had the title of your post today! It was so cool!
    Enjoy your holidays!
    Indi Raine

    1. Wow, that is so amazing!!! :) I absolutely LOVE the song. :) Thanks for commenting and Merry Christmas! :)

  2. Our church is singing this song tomorrow!
    It's a personal favorite of mine for a LOOONNNNGGG time. Love this song so much! :)

    1. That's neat! It was used for the Christmas performance at a friends's church and it was so pretty!
      I love it too! (did I mention that? :P)
      Thanks for commenting!

  3. Wow, that's so neat!!! I didn't know that this song was that old - Civil war! :D You don't here this sing very often 'round here, but it is a great song!! :)

    1. Yeah, I learned the story behind it this year in my English course. . .I had "Christmas Bells" as one of my required reading poems. Sooo glad I did! :D
      Thanks for commenting!