“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep…”

Ringing church bellsThanks to a version done by Cloverton, “I Heard the Bells” has become my favorite Christmas hymn. Researching the song a bit I learned that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s original poem (“Christmas Bells”) differs a bit from what we sing. I like his poem better; it stops where it should:

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.”

(The hymn is shorter, and adds a verse after the last stanza.)

The poem is public domain, but credit where credit is due…I got it from Poets.org. 🙂


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