Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day +giveaway!


It's Christmas 1863, the American Civil war rages and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow sits alone, contemplating the last couple years. Summer 1961 his wife's dress caught on fire and she died the next morning. He sustained burns trying to put out the flames (bad enough for him to give up shaving and begin the use of Laudanum.) After seven years of courting Frances Appleton and about eighteen years of marriage, he was devastated by his loss.

Now, he's just received news that his son has been badly wounded in battle.

So he sits down and writes a poem.

"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."
This poem has since become a very beloved hymn -- one of my favorites -- and the inspiration for a story that won the ACFW Virginia chapter's short story contest. I Heard the Bells is included in the anthology A Bit of Christmas

Virginia, December 1864

Three years ago, Gabriel Morgan left his home in Virginia to fight for the Union army, despite his family and his fiancĂ©e’s loyalties to the South. Now, with battle fresh in his mind, and the war still raging, he chances a quick trip home with one prayer…to make peace this Christmas.
Now available at Amazon!


What is one of your favorite "traditional" Christmas poems or Carols? Or, if you love this song as much as me, which is your favorite version? 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a e-book edition of A Bit of Christmas! And if you don't have any luck today, join me on Facebook for more chances to win copies of this book every day this week. :)

28 comments:

  1. I love hearing the story behind songs and hymns. I wasn't familiar with this story. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. A neat story,My favorite happens to be Silent Night
    God bless you Have a terrific week

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    1. I love Silent Night, as well. Have a great week as well! :)

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  3. Great story! I love all the old hymns and Christmas songs. My favorite is O Holy Night. The stories behind the stories and songs are sometimes even more fascinating. And it's so often a story of loss. It's God's way of making something beautiful out of our grief.

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    1. So beautifully put. Thanks for stopping in!

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  4. My favorite traditional Christmas carol is Away in a Manger. I've heard it called the "Jesus Loves Me" of Christmas, and I have to agree. It's such a simple tune, but it has so much meaning.
    imaclogger23 at yahoo dot com

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  5. I love this song and the story behind it! Your anthology of it sounds great!! Another favorite of mine is It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.

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  6. Wow! I'd never heard the story behind this Christmas hymn before. Thank you for sharing! I'll check out this anthology.

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    1. You're welcome. I hope you enjoy my story. :)

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  7. I would love to read this book. I love reading the stories behind the Christmas Carils

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    1. Thanks for stopping in! It always gives so much more meaning to the words when we know where they came from. :)

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  8. Thoroughly learning about the story behind this song which is one of my favorites. My all time favorite would be Silent Night.

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    1. I'm glad. And Silent Night is def. one of the greats! :)

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  9. See you taught me something new today. Thank you :)

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  10. This has always been one of my favorite Christmas carols and I especially like the last verse.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."
    This is a wonderful promise that our God is always there.
    Thanks for a wonderful post and a great giveaway.
    Connie

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    1. Those are the best lines. My fav as well. :)

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  11. What a tender story! I am familiar with the carol, but didn't know the story behind it. Thanks so much for sharing this today. Cathy

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  12. I do love all of the traditional carols. Oh, Holy Night is a particular favorite.

    A wonderful post thank you.

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  13. The teacher in me loves The Night Before Christmas. I almost have it memorized. I love reciting it each year to my school or class.
    susanlulu@yahoo.com

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  14. A poem into a Christmas hymn. I like the overlap of the arts. Enjoyed reading your post, Angela.

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  15. I love that song, and the story behind it gives me hope anew each time I sing it. I just wrote the story behind the composing of Handel's Messiah on my blog at http://annaleeconti.blogspot.com. titled "Reflections on Turning Seventy."

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  16. Hearing the stories behind different hymns (or traditional Christmas songs,) always helps me gain a new appreciation of the song. Many times I have done a 180 and they have become a favorite. Thank you for sharing the sad history. That HWL finds hope after such tragic losses is inspiring.

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  17. For some strange reason the Christmas song, "We Three Kings of Orient Are" has always been my favorite.
    Janet E.
    von1janet(at)gmail(dot)com

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