Monday, December 28, 2009

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.

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.”

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet. The hymn above, entitled Christmas Bells, was composed by Longfellow on Christmas day, 1863 - in the midst of the Civil War and upon news that his son Charles had been wounded in battle.

More than a bell tower, the ETSU Carillon is really a musical instrument in that its 26 bells can be played using a keyboard. The bells, which were cast in Holland, are of various sizes -- the largest weighs 550 pounds, and the smallest weighs just 40 pounds. The 48 foot tall carillon was dedicated in 2005.

I love this video of Johnny and June Carter Cash!


  1. Enjoyed the lyrics of a song from long ago. Love your snow photos also.

  2. Thanks, Teresa! The hymn is a favorite of mine, and now that I know a little more of its history, I like it even more!

  3. As always, wonderful photos and reflections. Until this week I had not read all the stanzas. Most versions leave out the fourth and fifth, which deal directly with the Civil War, that cut such deep wounds in Appalachia

    "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!"



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