The Story Behind “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”

One of our favorite carols was written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was considered by many to be America’s greatest poet. As a child, Longfellow was very intelligent… at the age of three he was already going to school and by the age of six he was reading classical literature. After completing.  his education, Longfellow quickly rose to the top in the halls of academia after accepting a position at Harvard. Life was good for Longfellow. But then, tragedy struck.
Longfellow’s first wife became suddenly ill and died. Seven years later he re-married and he and his wife had five children. Again, life was going well for Longfellow until, tragedy struck again when his second wife, while lighting a match, set her clothes on fire and shed died as well. Then, before he could get his life together., America was hit with the Civil War.
Longfellow hated the Civil War. He pleaded with God to end it. When Longfellow’s son was wounded in battle and was sent home to recover Longfellow’s prayer turned to rage. As he tended his son’s injuries and saw other wounded boys on the streets of Cambridge, he asked his friends “Where is the peace?”
He took pen and paper and began trying to answer that question when he heard the sound of church bells. As he began to write, his poem was filled with gloom and despair. The poem would have been completely void of peace and hope had it not been for the last two verses. In those verses Longfellow wrote…
“God is not dead, nor death He sleep. The wrong shall prevail the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men…” which are the last words of the famous Christmas carol…. “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”

Listen to Casting Crowns wonderful version of “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day.”

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