“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is a Christmas carol based upon a 1863 poem titled “Christmas Bells” written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The context behind the poem is that Longfellow’s wife, Frances, had recently died in a fire in 1860. And then on December 1, 1863, this man received news that his eldest son, 19-year old Charley, had been nearly paralyzed by a gunshot wound fighting for the Union in the Civil War.
It was in the midst of this tragedy that he penned this poem on Christmas day. It is a reminder that we live in a world full of sin which results in death, disease, school shootings, hate, and mocking of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ. And yet while we were yet sinners, God came and provided a way for us all to receive true peace and salvation. By His wounds we are healed and justice will, in fact, prevail for His glory alone. Take this to heart this Christmas when you hear the bells ring.
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 the earth, good-will to men.