Posted by: Jim E | December 20, 2015

Christmas Bells, Longfellow and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…

December is a wonderful time of year…though, as I remember when I was young, many things happened in December that were hard…I can Christmas Eve snowremember the thought of how can we have Christmas when all this sadness is going on…I guess I thought that other months of the year didn’t bring on as much loss as December did…I was wrong of course, but it was a true feeling I had when I was young…
This morning (12/19/15) when I picked up Our Daily Bread, a daily devotion I use everyday, there was an interesting and helpful story Christmas 2015that relates to that feeling…called “The Seventh Stanza”…it is about the America poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and what is now a Christmas Carol called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…he titledChristmas Day, I Heard the Bells his poem at the time “Christmas Bells”…it later was set to music…the short article was historically interesting as well as the message of the poem…read the link to this “Our Daily Bread”…then the entire poem, including the stanzas about the Civil War, which was still being fought as he wrote…it will give new meaning to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…and the great expectation and hope that still remains for all of us during difficult times…
“Christmas Bells”
(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!”



  1. how is peace on earth and good will among men prevailing in today’s world?
    it seems that Longfellow is expressing a wish for the future that he can only ‘by faith’ declare will happen.
    a turn away from the actual events and happening around the world and the cities we live in to faith driven wishful thinking. it is a wonderful wish and hope, but to encourage others to see that wish as more real than the reality around them is to diminish their efforts to make actual reality better by engaging with it in positive ways to change it.


    • Oh, I do see your point of view…I “fight” with that view from time to time…but I’ve chosen to view this world from a different vantage point…one that looks at history just a bit…and see that times have always been dicey…I know that during WWII and my Mom was at home with two small boys…my Dad, in the Navy, in the South Pacific…and in 1942-43, the war was not going well…both Japan and Germany were winning everywhere…it was dismal at best…it was in many ways worse than now…but faith, hope and good will were foremost…along with the hard things of just living…any time in history people had to make that choice…and at all those times, whether Longfellow or you and me…we have a choice…we can say, “How’s that ‘peace on earth and good will among men’ going for ya” or we can work for that peace and good will…with each and every choice we make…how we live and how we live among those around us…I don’t argue with how you see it…but it is still a choice and I wish you well, this Christmas season…thanks for your comments…Jim E

      • Loved the Longfellow poem by the way.

  2. December is the best time of year! Christmas shopping, baking and family gatherings make it magical. Frank Sinatra and the St. Peter’s Choir sing the best versions of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

    • I would have to agree…Merry Christmas…Jim E

  3. Thanks again…Jim E

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