“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

This Christmas carol, that seems so appropriate today, was based on the 1863 poem by American writer Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  He wrote the poem “Christmas Day “ on Christmas Day 1863 during the Civil War.  His deeply loved second wife of 18 years had died in an accidental fire two years prior.  His son had joined the Union Army against Wadsworth’s wishes and been wounded.  The poem was set to music about 1872 by an English organist, John Baptists Calkin.  Bing Crosby recorded the song on October 3, 1956, reset to music by Joseph Mainzer in 1845.  Crosby’s version sold over 5 million copies, a success.  In 2008 Casting Crowns scored their eighth number 1 hit with this song on their Christmas album.  The words have changed a bit but as we listen to the news about our world, our wars may be subtler than the Civil War but “hate and wrong” are just as strong and mock the song of “peace on earth good will to men.”  Let us bow our heads and listen on this Christmas Day.  Blessings.

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