Peace on Earth?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What does “peace on earth” mean in a violence-torn world? Where is God when evil rips away precious lives from us? How can anyone “celebrate” Christmas in the midst of all this pain?

These were precisely the sort of questions going through the mind of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as he contemplated the oft-repeated message of “Peace on earth.” One Christmas, during the slaughter which was then happening that we now refer to as the Civil War, he penned the following words:

Church Bells Ringing

Church Bells Ringing

“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!

Church Service during the Civil War

Church Service during the Civil War

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!

Field at Gettysburg

Field at Gettysburg

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!”

Parking Lot in Newtown

Parking Lot in Newtown

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!”


For the story behind Longfellow’s poem: http://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Fellowship/Edit_I.Heard.the.Bells.html

~From my friend David

***

For more hope for the families in Newtown, read this.

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2 thoughts on “Peace on Earth?

    • You are welcome! I’m just glad my friend took the time to share them with me. Such meaning is found in our traditional music, yet we seldom remember the richness that surrounds the familiar words. Blessings ~w

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