In Quotes

“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.”

{Henry Wadsworth Longfellow}


church bells

There’s something truly wonderful about the sound of belfry bells ringing!  As a child, our house was just a few blocks from a beautiful old church whose steeple was home to three massive bells.  Every Sunday morning they would peal their reverent and joyful invitation as if to say “O come, let us adore Him!”.   Even today, that familiar sound brings back a rush of memories for me.  Without words they proclaim that all is well;  their music warms us on the inside while it blankets everything on the outside with a deep sense of comfort and calm anticipation.  Much as the angels’ burst of song to a hillside of shepherds stirred a slumbering, waiting world, the ringing of bells this time of year awakens in us the hope we possess knowing His birth was a promise fulfilled — it calls our hearts to worship.  Indeed, a new day has dawned!

Today’s quote is from the hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” which is part of Longfellow’s poem “Christmas Bells” written on December 25, 1863, right in the middle of the Civil War no less.  It should come as no surprise then, half-way through what is otherwise a bright and light song, we bump into this stanza:

“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!”

 

With a sadness that cannot be feigned, Longfellow says what we all so often ask looking out on our scarred and weary world, and sometimes even more painfully, into our own hearts as well — what peace?  Hate and discord can seem to mock the hopefulness we celebrate in His nativity.  But after all is said and done, Longfellow’s poem is a beautiful declaration of abiding confidence in the sovereign providence of God amidst the brokenness he saw around him and the deep personal losses he had suffered.  Much like the undulating canticle of bells, its verses lift, fall, and rise once more, affirming our faith and joy.

Down through corridors of time that stretch long and wide, the bells keep ringing out their message; calling us to rejoice, beckoning us to shine wherever we are, and reminding us the Prince of Peace has come!  Wouldn’t it be beautiful if this hymn became the soundtrack to the story we tell in our homes this Advent season?  During this holiday full of so many delightfully good things,  let’s press pause long enough to hear the Word made flesh lying in a manger.

Wishing you silent nights to ponder the holy wonder of it all.

Love, D.

 

christmas lights on tree

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

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!

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.”

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!