I heard the bells on Christmas day...

On Christmas day, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the poem that would become this famous carol at perhaps one of the lowest points of his life.  Sitting at the bedside of his oldest son nearly paralyzed during a battle of the Mine Run Campaign, a widowed father of six children at the age of 57 in a country rent by civil war sought to reconcile the myriad struggles of his own heart--brokenness both without & within.  You can read more of the history of this great hymn here, whose words seem as apt today as when they were first written.

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."

In a day when hate is strong, wars wax on, and evil seems to make no attempt to hide, this Christmas we celebrate the providence of our God who sees, who hears, and who comes.  Who takes on flesh, dwells among us, and gives us His peace.  Amen.