Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men

Yes, I am one of them and I am proud of it!

Yes, I am one of those who loads up 5 Christmas CD's on the player right after All Saint's Day and listens to Carols for a good 2 months - and I love it! I love the music, the texts, the memories, the visions it all creates. 

But every year it seems there is a carol that gets stuck in my head and keeps gnawing at me all season. Last year it was What Sweeter Music by John Rutter. I just couldn't hear it or sing it enough. But this year it is a totally different kind of carol. One that speaks to us of war, sadness, desperateness, death, of a world gone insane. 

The carol I am speaking of was written by the great American writer, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Penned on Christmas Day, 1863 while he was tending to his son's injuries sustained during the Civil War, Longfellow saw his son and other soldiers suffering and became more enraged as the war continued. During visits with families of soldiers lost in the war the conversation always come back to "Where is the peace of God"? So picking up pen and paper on that Christmas he tried to answer that haunting question. It is believed that Longfellow heard church bells tolling while writing the poem, thus inspiring the cadence of the masterpiece.

The carol I am speaking of is I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. With its plea for sanity in a world often gone insane, with its hope that somehow the joy, comfort, and peace that Christ was born to offer would be realized, the song has been an anchor for millions during dark days of WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam. 

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

I 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

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 from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

 And with the sound the carols drowned

Of peace on earth, goodwill 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, goodwill 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"

Till, ringing singing, on it's way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Peace on earth, good will to men.

Mary McIntire, Music Director