War has been a part of our lives for too many years now. War abroad and sadly war within our nation. Tempers flair. Fear engulfs. Lives are lost. And, yet, we continue to hope, and we listen for the bells ringing (peace on earth)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells” which ultimately led to the Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” while our country was in the midst of the Civil War, and he was in the midst of depression due to losing his beloved wife, Fanny as a result of an accidental fire, and his son, Charles suffering a crippling war injury. There was no peace for our country, nor for his soul. His head was bowed in despair and he was certain there was no peace on earth—For hate was strong and mocked the song. Hate and despair, however, could not silence the bells.
Dec. 20, 2001) “The first Christmas after Fanny's death, Longfellow wrote, ‘How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.’ A year after the incident, he wrote, ‘I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.’ Longfellow's journal entry for December 25th 1862 reads: ‘‘A merry Christmas' say the children, but that is no more for me.’ Almost a year later, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been severely wounded with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow's journal…. Finally, on Christmas Day of 1864, he wrote the words of the poem, "Christmas Bells."… Longfellow's Christmas bells loudly proclaimed, ‘God is not dead.’… Even more, the bells announced, ‘Nor doth He sleep.’… ‘The wrong shall fail, the right prevail’…the message that the Living God is a God of Peace is proclaimed in the close of the carol: ‘Of peace on Earth, good will to men.’”
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep,” they sing. “Then 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. And the bells they're ringing (peace on earth). Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth). And with our hearts we'll hear them (peace on earth). Peace on earth, good will to men”
“Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (peace on earth) The life the angels singing (peace on earth) Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth) Peace on earth, good will to men.”
Please take a moment to watch the hauntingly beautiful video of Longfellows, "Peace on Earth Good Will to Men"