- Jul 26, 2018
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem on Christmas day 1863. In November of that year Longfellow’s oldest son, who had volunteered for the Union Army without his father’s knowledge or permission, was severely wounded in battle. References to the Civil War are rarely included in the hymn based on Longfellow’s poem.
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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