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Thread: I heard the bells on Christmas Day

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    NE Gwinnett Co., GA

    Default I heard the bells on Christmas Day

    I heard the story from a radio talk show host and thought consider recent event and attitudes around the country perhaps we could all benefit from sharing this. I hope it touches you as it did me.
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    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 longer," he 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".

    He first wrote the poem on Christmas Day in 1863. "Christmas Bells" was first published in February 1865 in Our Young Folks, a juvenile magazine published by Ticknor and Fields.


    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."
    Want to hear God laugh? Tell him Your plans!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Woodbine, MD


    Thanks for posting that. I sometimes forget the context in which it was written, but it's obviously applicable to other times as well.

  3. #3


    Thank you Uncle Jesse. That is one of my favorite Christmas songs. I had no idea of it's origin. Very interesting.
    Trout don't speak Latin.

  4. #4


    We used it several times over the years as our Christmas phrase...I've sung it in choral groups as well. Very stirring.

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