I heard the bells on Christmas Day. . .

As Christmas approaches this year, the following carol began to play in my head.  I decided to find out more about it this year.  The poem was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863, during the time that his son left to fight in the Civil War.  Included in the lyrics one can hear a Father’s worry about the well being of his far away son.  As Longfellow was a professor at Harvard and lived in Cambridge, I imagine that the bells he is hearing are from one or all of the following towers in Boston:  Old North Church had their 8 change ringing bells, Fanueil Hall had one bell, and King’s Chapel downtown also had the largest bell ever cast by the Revere foundry.  One would imagine them all to be ringing on Christmas Day, and perhaps being the inspiration for one of the more popular carols of our time.  What a wonderful legacy – the sound of bells brings joy and stirs the imagination and those of us who ring them are privileged indeed.

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!”

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