Poem of the Week: Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

22 December 2012

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
I know it's Saturday and my weekly poems are traditionally posted on Fridays, but I couldn't allow yet another Friday to pass without some semblance of verse. It just wouldn't be proper. On that note, I feel I must apologize for the lack of poetry hereabouts in the past month or so. Nearly every Friday has held some great event for my family, and whether that means dinner guests, a meeting at the house, or a dance recital dress rehearsal, one common thread binds them all together: they steal away my blogging time. 

The poem I've chosen to share today was the inspiration for the classic Christmas song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". If the song has charm to it, the poem has even more. What I love best about it is that it recognizes God as the source of true peace, and does not attribute it to a lack of suffering or conflict in the world, as many are wont to do. As one of the poem's final lines states, "The Wrong shall fail / The Right prevail." No trial we face as humans can dim the radiant light of His beauty and power, and the Lord will always triumph in the end.

Christmas Bells
By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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!

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!’

I hope each of you are experiencing a blessed and joy-filled Christmas season!

3 epistles:

  1. This probably has to be one of my favorite Christmas hymns along with O Come, O come Emmanuel.

    Have you ever heard Joseph's Lullaby? It's also very good.

  2. I've always loved this poem. Have you heard Casting Crowns rendition of it? It's beautiful.

    Happy Christmas, my dear friend!

    Love you.

  3. Fern — I love O Come, O Come Emmanuel! It's my favorite Christmas hymn of all time. Yes, I've heard Joseph's Lullaby; I agree, it is very good. :)

    Nän — Yes, I have actually; as a matter of fact, I danced to it in my studio's Christmas recital when I was in . . . seventh grade, I believe? I'm not sure — it was a while ago — but I always think of that dance when I hear the song. :) Love you!


"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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