Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Favorite Christmas Carol

If you've ever looked in the hymnal at the "Advent" section of songs, you find the usual suspects: "Away in a Manger," "Silent Night," "The First Noel" and more.  You have to look a little harder to find my favorite carol "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." It's generally one of those half page songs at the bottom of the page with a much more popular carol above it. But the words, oh the words.


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.


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.”


The words were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1864 - during the heart of the Civil War, and yet, they're just as appropriate today.  I know I can't even begin to count the number of times I've been able to relate to the next to last verse.  I've had three generations of my family (on both sides) deployed overseas for one conflict or another. I can only imagine that the other members of my family have wondered where the peace on earth is.

I'm so glad Longfellow didn't leave it at that.  The last verse gives me goosebumps every time I hear it sung.  "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.  The wrong shall fail, the right prevail" Praise God for that!

If you need a rendition of this song to listen to, I strongly suggest David Phelps's version from his "Joy, Joy" project.  He leaves the third verse out, but I don't think that detracts from the message of the song.

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