Les Patterson’s Monday Morning Boost: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

  • We attended a Christmas Cantata put on by a local Hyde Park church choir. The music was beautiful. I especially enjoyed the choir’s rendition of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” sung passionately as they slowly walked up the aisles and onto the rostrum.

    Before the choir performed “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” choir director Maureen Hearns delivered an enlightening tale behind the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The story, unfamiliar to me at the time, touched me deep into my soul.

    During the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son Charles Appleton Longfellow joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father’s blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer,” he wrote. “I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good”. Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia) during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write “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!

     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.”

    To rise from the ashes of despair, to allow hope to come to a hopeless soul, to find “peace on earth” and “good-will to men” is perhaps the greatest gift Christmas brings.

    Have a great Monday!  Merry Christmas! Thanks for letting me share.

    Les Patterson

    p.s. Take 13 minutes today to enjoy and share this beautiful rendition of “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

    Les Patterson loves to share stories and the “Monday Morning Boost” is his way of sharing a story or two with family, friends, and clients. Les believes every person, business and organization has a story worth sharing. Since 1997 he has enjoyed finding compelling ways to share those stories through writing and producing radio commercials at the Cache Valley Media Group. Discover how he can help tell your story at www.CacheValleyMediaGroup.com. Feedback and comments are welcome at les@cvradio.com. ©2015, Les Patterson. All Rights Reserved. To UNSUBSCRIBE, reply to this email with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line and your email will be removed.