Peace Re-Energized

One day last week I woke up melancholy.

“Melancholy” is a nice word for “discouraged.” “Discouraged” is a nice word for “depressed.” The state of the world, the state of my city, and the state of some personal circumstances all converged and I felt their weight.

But it was the second week of Advent, the week of “Peace,” so I took my heaviness to God.

I know You are the Prince of Peace, Jesus, but I sure don’t feel much peace right now. The world seems anything but peaceful. How can I enter into Your Peace?

As I sat still and in listening mode, I sensed Him answering with a song, a Christmas hymn that I don’t often hear sung anymore: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

I didn’t remember the words and didn’t know its story. So I looked it up. And listened to it. About eight times, one right after the other.

The song was originally written as the poem “Christmas Bells” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in 1863. It was Christmas Day, during the height of America’s Civil War. Longfellow felt not only the shared grief of all Americans as the country was being torn apart, but he also felt deep personal loss. His beloved wife had died tragically in an accidental fire, and his son had been just been severely wounded in Virginia during the Battle of New Hope Church. For Longfellow, the idea of “Peace on earth” seemed like mockery—until God showed renewed his vision and restored his hope.

And as I read the words to his poem and listened, over and over to them being sung, God renewed my hope, too. God is not dead! He’s not asleep! At the second Advent of our Lord Jesus, the wrong shall indeed fail, the right shall ultimately prevail, with there will be true peace on earth good-will to men!

If you want to listen, go here: I Heard the Bells . And if you want all the lyrics (the song usually omits the words that reference the Civil War) they are below.

May the Prince of Peace re-energize your peace in this season, too!

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!

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!

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.”




3 thoughts on “Peace Re-Energized

  1. Amy says:

    Thanks for sharing your heart and thoughts, Cynthia. The story and song touched my soul… giving me His peace in the chaos of life. And, Merry Christmas, friend!!

  2. Vicki says:

    One of my favorite songs. We are planning to use the song as part of the church service on 12/27 – singing the first 3 verses followed by headlines from 2015 – ones that reflect the peace that is sorely missing. Scripture verses that declare God’s sovereignty, our hope, our peace will be read followed by the singing of the last two verses. “God is not dead nor doth He sleep!” Amen!!!

  3. That was a beautiful rendition of that song and I love that song. It is a reminder that times are often tough and mankind would totally despair were it not for our loving, saving God!

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