Sunday, December 20, 2009

I Heard the Bells...of Peace on Earth

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 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.

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.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1864

The poet wrote these words during the Civil War in America, a time of tragedy and suffering for the nation. A century and a half later wars still plague the world and thousands of troops will be separated from family this Christmas. Three years ago I wrote an advent post entitled Advent Peace. My elderly patient told me she prayed for just one thing every day and that was peace. She had experienced much hardship during the second world war and was thankful for the peace and prosperity she came to in Canada.

Once again on this fourth Sunday of Advent we pray for peace in our own lives and for the nations of the earth.


  1. Truly what is there...and what else matters...if there isn't peace?

  2. It would be nice. Praying certainly can't hurt.

  3. I thought it was interesting to read in the paper this morning, that during several of our wars, troops and enemies had "ceasefires" on Christmas Day, and even at times, engaged one another in food and games. Peace... highly underrated concept.


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