The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day

Original Title: Christmas Bells

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Christmas 1863
Vocal Recording by Douglas D. Anderson: MP3 / OGG

Source: J. T. Trowbridge, et al, eds., Our Young Folks. An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls. Vol. I, No. II. (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, February, 1865), p. 123.

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 !"

Note: A wonderful background article concerning the circumstances that led to the composition of this poem (and the subsequent carol), can be found in an article The Christmas Carol Soldier, by Rev. Robert Girard Carroon.

Additional Vocal Recording: MP3 / OGG by Phil Kolterman, LibriVox. In addition, this poem was recorded by nine other LibriVox volunteers during the last week of December, 2006: Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Here is a ZIP of these nine recordings: Christmas Bells.

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