I Heard The Bells On Christmas


And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
~Luke 2:13-14, NKJV


Our cultural elites can say what they wish about CHRISTMAS but without JESUS there would be no holiday of this magnitude, nothing remotely close to what we see each year at CHRISTMAS. It’s driving the liberals crazy.


There are many interesting figures in American History. Among them is a man by the name of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882). We all know Longfellow was a poet but he was much more. Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts. He was a very bright student and graduated Bowdoin College at age 19. He then traveled abroad, visiting France, Spain, Italy, Germany, back to France, then England before returning to the United States in mid-August 1829. While overseas, he learned French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German, mostly without formal instruction. He took a professorship at his Alma mater before moving on the Cambridge where he lived in George Washington’s Revolutionary War Headquarters. Mary Potter became Longfellow’s first wife in 1831 but she passed away four years later due to a miscarriage. He was shaken by her untimely death. In 1836, at age 29, he became a professor at Harvard. In 1839 he began to court Francis Appleton who had no intention of marrying Longfellow but he was persistent and seven years later she consented to matrimony. In 1854, Longfellow retired from Harvard, devoting himself entirely to writing. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from Harvard in 1859.

Then in 1861 a cycle of tragedy for Longfellow and his family began. On April 12, 1861 the opening shots of the American Civil War were fired and on July 10 Fanny Longfellow was fatally burned in an accident in the library of their home. She was melting wax with a candle and accidentally caught her dress on fire. To protect her children, she ran into Henry’s study and together they tried frantically to put out the flames. Henry severely burned his face, arms, and hands. The next morning, Fanny died. After the accident, Longfellow grew a full beard because it was too painful to shave.

The first Christmas after Fanny’s death, Longfellow wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.” A year after the incident he wrote, “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.” Longfellow’s journal entry for December 1862 reads, “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

Almost a year later Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac, had been fatally wounded. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in his journal. But then, on December 25, 1864, he wrote the words of this poem. Perhaps his hopes were renewed by the news that the war would end soon; whatever the motivation, his soul was stirred and he wrote this poem that has become one of our favorite carols.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
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 rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep 
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth good will to men.
I think I read every word on Longfellow in Wikipedia with no mention of his faith or this famous Christmas Carol. The president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary shared this story at Joe David’s graduation. I was almost moved to shout. I came close.
  • MERRY CHRISTMAS to all. This is my Christmas Eve and Christmas blog.
  • As Faith Hills Christmas song says, “My world is changing, I am rearranging, does that mean Christmas changes to?” Yes and no: it is still the greatest celebration on earth, the celebration of Jesus birth but we change and in that sense Christmas changes too. The toughest thing about Christmas is missing those we use to celebrate it with but this temporary. So many of my friends and family in Limestone County have departed that I decided to visit there yesterday and go wassailing here in Danville today.
  • Landon and Joe David went with me yesterday and we made 9 visits but I need to make more than that today.
  • Worship Celebration tomorrow at 10:15 am




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