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I Heard The Bells

December 13, 2023

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:14

Peace on earth good will to men……the baby in the manger bridged the gap from Heaven to Earth. There was worship in Heaven as Earth rejoiced. The Prince of Peace had come.

Though in a manger Thou draw breath, Thou art greater than life and death.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. The words penned by Henry W. Longfellow are so powerful and poignant.

He wrote this song after losing his wife, facing war, and almost losing his son to the fighting. I can’t relate to any of that; but as a songwriter, I have felt the same joy turned to sorrow.

1 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.

2 I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

3 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.”

Have you ever been strolling through life, the familiar strains of grace and joy and peace singing their melodies over your life as if nothing is wrong in the world? An unbroken song. But then despair comes. Grief. Loneliness. Heartache. Pain seems to mock the song of peace. “God is dead. He sleeps. He doesn’t hear; He doesn’t care.” Head bowed low, song lost, the bells a distant memory….

Who knows how long the span is between the third and fourth verse. The night grows longer, the sorrow deeper, as the darkness takes its toll. You begin to fear that you will never hear the bells ever again. Sometimes, you can’t even remember what they sounded like. You watch as all around you, life continues for others. Things seem to fall into place for everyone else; but not you. Time has stopped. You can’t move forward. You are frozen. Hope has died.

I remember the first time I began to feel the tiniest bit of hope return. It was a whisper and it took me by surprise. For years, I hadn’t thought about the future. Fear had told me that my life as I knew it was over. Uncertainty overshadowed every happiness I could have had. Pain smothered all the joy with its bleakness. But hope eventually returned as a distant sound. An old, familiar song.

4 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.”

It resounded louder; deeper. More significant than the sorrow. God is NOT dead, nor doth He sleep!

He came to seal that truth in our hearts. That no matter what darkness may try to drive it away; no matter what heartache may try to bury it – peace and goodwill reigns. Because HE reigns.

5 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.

The world revolved from night to day. That is the essence of every song given through heartache. Jesus – bearing our grief, sharing our sorrow – shines his light in our darkness.

I don’t know where you are this Christmas. What pain has caused the bells to go silent in your life. But may I remind you of this hope: night always turns to day. You may never shed the grief you carry, but because Jesus came, because He lived and died and lives again forevermore, there is peace.

May the bells peal more loud and deep this season of all the wondrous blessings we have through Christ Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

I absolutely love to listen to this every Christmas. I hope you enjoy it, too!

If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, please read this. Reach out to me if you need to.

  • Melissa Lotspeich
    December 13, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    I was always a Daddy’s girl, and my Dad was by far one of the biggest spiritual influence in my life. He taught me how to bake cookies, how to wrestle, how to win at board games, how to pray, how to be a blessing to those we love and strangers alike, how to be a true friend, how to have a big heart, and how to be a fiercely independent woman. I can never hear this song without crying. Tears of pain, sorrow, and remembrance; but also joy, anticipation, and a wealth of happy memories. This was his favorite Christmas song. He passed away in 2016 after a 7 month battle with cancer, and I’m quickly approaching that point where I’ll be here on Earth without him longer than I had him and that makes my heart hurt. But I hold fast to that day when my night is forever turned to day and I get to experience what he is already; seeing our Savior face to face and being reunited once again on the other side of glory.

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