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Bells of iron, words of hope

by davesandel on December 25th, 2012

Bells of iron, words of hope

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day

Luke 2:8-14

In the middle of the night, the angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, “Fear not!  For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq7Rw03yhl4

 

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.

 

I thought how, as the day had come,

The belfries of all Christendom

Had rolled along, unbroken song

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.”

 

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!

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863

 

In a freak accident two years earlier,  Longfellow’s wife was burned to death.  Now in the winter of 1863, in the most hopeless months of the Civil War, his oldest son was badly wounded in Virginia (at the Battle of New Hope Church, no less).  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, America’s most popular poet, wasted away in New England.  Writing poetry no longer came easily.  He felt very alone on Christmas Day.

But this time, as he put his pen to paper, the words flowed free.

Stanzas three, four and five of his poem are not recorded in our song:

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.

 

If 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.

Henry’s son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, survived his wounds and became one of the first American citizens to visit Japan.  He stayed for nearly two years and wrote a journal of his experiences.

Henry’s poem, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” was first published in 1865 in a juvenile magazine, Our Young Folks, and set to music in 1872.  And so we sing it too, 150 years later, on Christmas Day 2012.

God bless us, every one.

 

http://www.christiancounselingservice.com/archived_devotions.php?article_id=1122

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