Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day


Today I want to share a short bio behind the song, "I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day".  Did you know it was penned by one of America's best known poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)?  He contributed to the wealth of carols sung each Christmas season, when he composed the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on December 25th 1864. "Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14). The carol was originally a poem, "Christmas Bells," containing seven stanzas. Two stanzas were omitted, which contained references to the American Civil War, thus giving us the carol in its present form. The poem gave birth to the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," and the remaining five stanzas were slightly rearranged in 1872 by John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905), who also gave us the memorable tune. When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9th 1865; and, his poem reflected the prior years of the war's despair, while ending with a confident hope of triumphant peace.  There is much more to his story; he endured the tragic loss of his wife Fanny when her dress caught on fire and she was burned to death.  He himself suffered severe burns in trying to put out the fire.  Several years later in 1864 he wrote the words to the poem, "Christmas Bells." 

"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!"


Here is my little Gingerbread Man ornament.  I found him a couple of years ago at Crate and Barrel.  He's a cutie!  :) 




And my latest handmade card...