I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

In recent years, it's been my habit to share a Christmas song with you on Christmas Eve. This year, I want to share a carol that may seem sad and sober to some - but which is full of meaning and hope for Christians.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the lyrics to this carol during the Civil War, and he wrote it while in personal despair. He'd lost his first wife years before, and had recently lost his second wife in an even more tragic way. She'd just cut their young son's hair, and wanted to preserve a lock of it. But while melting wax onto the end of the lock, her dress caught fire. Longfellow tried to save her, but she died of her burns a day later. Even more tragedy surrounded him, however. His country - a nation his forefathers had fought hard to create - seemed to be falling apart in war. And one of his sons, fighting in the war without his father's approval, was wounded.

And so, when Longfellow sat down to write this unique Christmas song, he really was suffering, as someone who mourns during the Christmas season can only fully understand. Yet, in the final verse of the song, he remembers Christ's return, when there will be true peace, as we've never known before, on earth.

Yes, grab your hanky.

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