Christmas Bells

wbull1

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#1
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Christmas Bells

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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JPK Huson 1863

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#3
Hadn't known his son was in the war much less wounded, thank you! It makes the poem even more poignant.

"I have tried to resist the temptation of going without your leave but cannot any longer." Charley left this, going to war without his father's blessing. 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. I think Henry traveled to DC twice, to nurse his son. Once wounded and once in a hospital there with disease. Longfellow's wife Fanny had died in 1861, her clothing catching fire, can you imagine?

Have frequently envied poets their ability to make sense of their world by gluing words together. Longfellow did it awfully well.
 

wbull1

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#4
Hadn't known his son was in the war much less wounded, thank you! It makes the poem even more poignant.

"I have tried to resist the temptation of going without your leave but cannot any longer." Charley left this, going to war without his father's blessing. 2nd Lieutenant, 1st Massachusetts Cavalry. I think Henry traveled to DC twice, to nurse his son. Once wounded and once in a hospital there with disease. Longfellow's wife Fanny had died in 1861, her clothing catching fire, can you imagine?

Have frequently envied poets their ability to make sense of their world by gluing words together. Longfellow did it awfully well.

Thanks for the additional information
 

Kurt G

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#11
I never cared for the song version until I ran across the one posted by Connecticut Yankee . A great version !
 

LoyaltyOfDogs

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#13
...Longfellow's wife Fanny had died in 1861, her clothing catching fire, can you imagine?...
Reading this, I wondered if hers might have been a "death by crinoline" while cooking or tending a fireplace, but according to this website, it was a different household tragedy that occurred during another common, everyday activity: she was sealing an envelope when hot sealing wax fell in her lap and ignited her clothing.
 
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