Mudcat Café message #2486216 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #24361   Message #2486216
Posted By: GUEST,Arkie
05-Nov-08 - 10:49 PM
Thread Name: Songs of hope and optimism
Subject: RE: Songs of hope and optimism
This is a Christmas song, but I nominate I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.

The words were written by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day in 1864. At the time, the country was engaged in the Civil War and Longfellow was still mourning the tragic loss of his beloved wife two years earlier when the hot wax from a candle fell unnoticed on her dress. The dress was ignited and engulfed her in flames. Longfellow tried to extinguish the fire and finally in desperation he wrapped his arms around her to smother the flames. He was severely burned on his face, arms and hands and was unable to shave after the accident. In addition he was agonizing over a recent crippling war injury to one of his sons. The title of the original poem was Christmas Bells, but when a melody was added (actually there were two melodies and possibly more attached to the poem)a new title was used. The two verses about the war were eliminated in the version that was put to music.

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."