Christmas can be a difficult time for people who are hurting or grieving. In the 1860s, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had reason to despair: America was at war with itself, his son was severely wounded in battle and his wife died in a fire. The first Christmas after his wife’s death, Longfellow wrote, “How inexpressibly
sad are all holidays.”
Three years later, on Christmas Day 1864, Longfellow penned a poem that later became the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” The lyrics move from despair to hope — and, thanks to Jesus, so can we.
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 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!