“Christmas Bells” a poem by Longfellow

December 14th, 2007

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. TheLongfellow Civil War broke out that same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to hear the his own son had been seriously wounded as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down to his desk, one Christmas Day, he heard the church bells ringing, and ringing. It was in this setting he wrote:

“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!”

Our country isn’t in the midst of the Civil War. We are in the midst of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many of us feel like Longfellow did so many years ago. Our hearts ache for the state of our world, our country, and our economy.

Even though our world and lives are chaotic, I find comfort in Longfellow’s words. Wherever you are in your life right now, you are special. As a person very near to me once said: “Things always turn out right.” Merry Christmas.

Leave a Reply

*