Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A Bitter Divide Drove a Man to Pen a Poem

This Christmas carol has a lot of sadness attached to it, but it was written in an attempt to bring hope to the rest of the world at a time when everyone was so divided.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, an American poet, writes from the depth of his deepest despair to bring us the poem that became a beloved Christmas carol.

At this time in his life, he faced the loss of his wife of 18 years to a tragic fire, and the loss of his son as his son took up arms for the Union during the Civil War against his father’s wishes. While his son survived, he was severely injured during the Battle of New Hope Church in Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign in December of 1863.

As Mr. Longfellow embraced his sorrow and watched the country become torn from the bitter fight between the states, he sat down and wrote about his feelings.

His poem Christmas Bells speaks of the sadness that he felt whenever he heard the sounds of the bells chiming. Since there was no peace between men, they reminded him that the land was divided. He said that the hate was strong and mocked the song of peace on earth and goodwill to men. Luke 2:14

In conclusion, he decided that the sound of the bells may bring hope for peace among men.

Mr. Longfellow wrote this poem on Christmas Day in 1863 right after the Mine Run Campaign. It was first published in 1865 and included the verses regarding the Civil War that we normally do not sing when we sing this song. Here is the original poem:

Christmas Bells

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."

The poem got its music in 1872 and was titled I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. It has had a couple musical accompaniments attached to it over the years, but the one most commonly heard is the one from 1956 when Johnny Marks of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer gave us the version that Bing Crosby and others recorded.

While we normally hear the version by Marks, the original from 1848, the Calkin version, is still sung by more traditional singers like Johnny Cash or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Here are the lyrics that we sing today:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
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, 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, nor doth he sleep,
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men"

Till, ringing singing, on it's way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

I SO miss this lovely voice and have for many years. May her voice bring you joy.

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Don’t see what you are looking for? Maybe you will find it in some of the following showcases or ask one of our talented artists to design something special for you.
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O Holy Night
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Enjoy!
Julie

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this with us Julie. I have never heard or seen the full lyrics of this song. How very sad. I really appreciate you helping to promote us all! Sharing.

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  3. Omgosh I'm so sorry Julie, I inserted the wrong name. Thank you so much Julie for everything YOU do to help promote each of us. <3 I am thrilled to share. 😊

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  4. Thank you so much Julie for promoting all of us. Shared on Twitter and Pinterest.

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  5. Sometimes the holidays can be painful. Thanks for reminding us of this and that there is hope beyond the pain. Loss during the holidays is especially sensitive. Longfellow has been a favorite since I was a child.

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  6. It's interesting to learn what Longfellow was going through when he wrote the poem.

    Shared all on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/lindab142/countdown-to-christmashanukkah/

    Thanks for everything you do and for including my kippah.

    Will also post on FB and G+

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  7. What beautiful words to the song. As always, an interesting read - always look forward to it. Many thanks for the extra promo and for including my earrings. Will share far and wide. Treats to the Handsome Blu from the Snoozin' Seamus.

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  8. Thank you Julie for the extra promotions, will share your blog.

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  9. As expected, that was a beautiful version of this song by Karen Carpenter. Thanks so much for showing our beautiful and amazing black items. They brightened my day! Shared!

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  10. I found the history of this song very interesting - I had never heard of it before - how Longfellow put his personal experience to words - but ending it with the world-wide sentiment filled with hope: "The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men." Also - thanks for showcasing all these handmade gift ideas - including my Black and White Potholders at RSS Designs In Fiber.

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  11. I always loved Bing Crosby's version of this song. Thank you for sharing it's history and for more promotion of our artisan wares. Will be promoting.

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  12. Thanks for including my lampwork beads in your collection!

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  13. Never heard this song and thank you for sharing the history of the song, sad but hopeful. Thank you for including my Magician tags. Off to share.

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  14. Beautiful selections, Julie. Thank you for including my bracelet. Shared.

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  15. Enjoyed reading about this song. Thank you so much for including my fused glass cufflinks. Have shared -

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