Christmas Bells by H.W. Longfellow | Hope

Longfellow's Christmas Bells "Then rang the bells..."

Christmas Bells

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.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

A Note

This poem is one of my all-time favorites. It captures the hope and despair of a generation and points it towards the Gospel. Referencing both the first and second Advent of Christ, “Christmas Bells” is a firm reminder that the full hope of Christmas is ultimately found in the person of Jesus and the expectation that one day He will rule all of Creation in righteousness.

In a world torn up by disease, death, civil wars, refugee crises and people turning away those in need, never have I seen hate so strong and mocking the song than these present days. But we do not despair. The day is coming when we will truly see the Wrong fail and the Right prevail with peace on earth, goodwill to men.

“And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.”
– Revelation 22:12-13

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