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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on December 25th 1863. The carol was originally a poem, "Christmas Bells," containing seven stanzas. Two stanzas with references to the American Civil War were omitted.

The remaining five stanzas were slightly rearranged in 1872 by John Baptiste Calkin, an English organist, who added music to the poem, making it one of today's well-loved Christmas carols.

Longfellow wrote "Christmas Bells" during the height of war and after he had recieved word that his son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, had been injured in the Battle of New Hope Church, Virginia during the Mine Run Campaign.

"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).

"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!

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!'

"A song was heard at Christmas
To wake the midnight sky:
A saviour's birth, and peace on earth,
And praise to God on high."

Timothy Dudley-Smith

Featured Music: "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"
Bob Sorem at The Organ

Merry Christmas!

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