The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Christmas Bells

Words: Anonymous

Source: Christmas: Its Origin, Celebration and Significance as Related in Prose and Verse - Robert Haven Schauffler (1907)

There are sounds in the sky when the year grows old,
    And the winds of the winter blow—
When night and the moon are clear and cold,
    And the stars shine on the snow,
Or wild is the blast and the bitter sleet
    That beats on the window-pane;
But blest on the frosty hills are the feet
    Of the Christmas time again!
        Chiming sweet when the night wind swells,
        Blest is the sound of the Christmas Bells!

Dear are the sounds of the Christmas chimes
    In the land of the ivied towers,
And they welcome the dearest of festival times
    In this Western world of ours!
Bright on the holly and mistletoe bough
    The English firelight falls,
And bright are the wreathed evergreens now
    That gladden our own home walls!
        And hark! the first sweet note that tells,
        The welcome of the Christmas Bells!

The owl that sits in the ivy's shade,
    Remote from the ruined tower,
Shall start from his drowsy watch afraid
    When the clock shall strike the hour;
And over the fields in their frosty rhyme
    The cheery sounds shall go,
And chime shall answer unto chime
    Across the moonlit snow!
        How sweet the lingering music dwells,—
        The music of the Christmas Bells.

It fell not thus in the East afar
    Where the Babe in the manger lay;
The wise men followed their guiding star
    To the dawn of a milder day;
And the fig and the sycamore gathered green,
    And the palm-tree of Deborah rose;
'Twas the strange first Christmas the world had seen—
    And it came not in storm and snows.
        Not yet on Nazareth's hills and dells
        Had floated the sound of Christmas Bells.

The cedars of Lebanon shook in the blast
    Of their own cold mountain air;
But nought o'er the wintry plain had passed
    To tell that the Lord was there!
The oak and the olive and almond were still,
    In the night now worn and thin;
No wind of the winter-time roared from the hill
    To waken the guests at the inn;
        No dream to them the music tells
        That is to come from the Christmas Bells!

The years that have fled like the leaves on the gale
    Since the morn of the Miracle-Birth,
Have widened the fame of the marvellous tale
    Till the tidings have filled the earth!
And so in the climes of the icy North,
    And the lands of the cane and the palm,
By the Alpine cotter's blazing hearth,
    And in tropic belts of calm,
        Men list to-night the welcome swells,
        Sweet and clear, of Christmas Bells!

They are ringing to-night through the Norway firs,
    And across the Swedish fells,
And the Cuban palm-tree dreamily stirs
    To the sound of those Christmas Bells!
They ring where the Indian Ganges rolls
    Its flood through the rice-fields wide;
They swell the far hymns of the Lapps and Poles
    To the praise of the Crucified.
        Sweeter than tones of the ocean's shells
        Mingle the chimes of the Christmas Bells!

The years come not back that have circled away
    With the past of the Eastern land,
When He plucked the corn on the Sabbath day
    And healed the withered hand:
But the bells shall join in a joyous chime
    For the One who walked the sea,
And ring again for the better time
    Of the Christ that is to be!
        Then ring!—for earth's best promise dwells
        In ye, O joyous Prophet Bells!

Ring out at the meeting of night and morn
    For the dawn of a happier day!
Lo, the stone from our faith's great sepulchre torn
    The angels have rolled away!
And they come to us here in our low abode,
    With words like the sunrise gleam,—
Come down and ascend by that heavenly road
    That Jacob saw in his dream.
        Spirit of love, that in music dwells,
        Open our hearts with the Christmas Bells!

Help us to see that the glad heart prays
    As well as the bended knees;
That there are in our own as in ancient days
    The Scribes and the Pharisees;
That the Mount of Transfiguration still
    Looks down on these Christian lands,
And the glorified ones from that holy hill
    Are reaching their helping hands.
        These be the words our music tells
        Of solemn joy, O Christmas Bells!

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