Monday, December 17, 2012

"Then Pealed the Bells More Loud and Deep..."

One of my favorite Christmas carols is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" because I love the story that is told in the lyrics. It was written by the famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863 - in the midst of the American Civil War - a dark and tumultous time for our country.

Here is a bit of the history behind the song, from Wikipedia:

"During the American Civil War, Longfellow's oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union cause as a soldier, without his father's blessing.  Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. 'I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave, but I cannot any long,' Charles wrote. 'I feel it to be my first duty to do what 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 in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write 'Christmas Bells'...on Christmas Day 1863."

The poem was first published in a juvenile magazine in February 1865 and later set to music in 1872.

In light of last week's tragic events, the truth of this song rings in my ears. It seems our world, and especially our country has slipped into a very dark time, especially spiritually, and we may feel tempted to ask ourselves, "God, are you still in control?"  We need only to turn to His Word and reflect on our own history, to know that yes, He is still in control.

"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 the as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the 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, not 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.

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