Christmas Bells

This year I have been singing with Stirling University Choir again. It has been a difficult term for the choir – pieces of music that seemed, right up to the performance date, beyond us. However this did not apply to one piece we have been singing during Advent – Christmas Bells by Caroline Sparey ( https://theartofmusic.com/publications/5139.php ). The piece speaks of the healing as Christmas nears and Caroline’s setting points this beautifully. I am sorry that it has not been recorded to my knowledge but I commend the piece for performance by small choirs everywhere.

The text is based on a poem by Longfellow, possibly not a fashionable poet today, more noted for his epic poems. It was written during the American Civil War and reflects the horror of that war.

Christmas Bells

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 above poem can be found in:
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. The Complete Poetical Works of Longfellow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1893.
Stevenson, Burton Egbert , ed. The Home Book of Verse for Young Folks. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915

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About nickmoz

An enthusiast to my core! I have diverse interests - I am an Explorer Scout Leader, a rock climber (far less talented as I get older), genealogist and avid reader. I sing and laugh too loudly. I love my wife and three grown up sons - they are all far more talented than me!