I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

One of my favorite Christmas songs is the traditional carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. The lyric is based on a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox in the spring of 1865. The poem reflected despair caused by the war and the personal tragedies of Longfellow’s recent life including the death of his wife Fanny and the crippling injury of his son Charles from war wounds. More importantly is the ending refrain confidence and the hope of triumphant peace. It is a timeless message.

.
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild 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 roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bow’d 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.”

‘Til 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!

Song: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

Artist: various

Album: N/A

Year: written on Christmas Day 1864

Leave a comment below. Let me know if you have corrections or suggestions.
Do you own this music on vinyl, CD, or download for your iPOD?
Why is this lyric important to you? What lyrics would you add to Lyrical Wisdom?

One response to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

  1. Re: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day; most sources indicate that the poem was written on Christmas Day 1863, as it was published in 1864. This would make it almost a year and a half before Lee’s surrender.

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