I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

It’s that time of year again where we reflect on our lives and look forward to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. I have written other posts about this that I won’t bother to copy (but feel free to check them out, they are linked below). I just hope you will all be reflecting on your lives and thinking about what is important to you, what gives you value, what brings you hope, love, and compassion. We all (if you have internet and a computer to be able to read this, you are definitely included in this) have been given much. Grace, mercy, kindness, places to live, cars to drive, food to eat: abundant blessings we have. Be thankful for them and in turn, give to others in whatever capacity you are able. Give beyond what makes you comfortable. Push beyond your comfort zone. One previous post I commented on Relient K’s song “I Celebrate the Day” and it’s climax is pertinent here:

I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life

Grace has been extended to us in our brokenness, try extending grace and love yourself.

It has been a strange week here in Seattle. We are used to the rain and the cold. We are used to snow as a novelty or as something you seek out somewhere else. We are not so used to it as a way of life. We have about a foot of snow here at The House and the roads haven’t been driven on much. We walked up to QFC and it was packed with people seeming to prepare for the end of the world. It is just strange for us. I enjoy it, it is peaceful I think. We have had 3 snow days at school with one more tomorrow and (most likely) one more on Tuesday (we had to go Monday and Tuesday as make up days for our strike… that we now have to make up because of snow). The days off have been nice and relaxing, which is what a break is supposed to be. Hopefully I can get down to Southern WA for Christmas without any problems… we’ll see how that goes.

But the title of this post brings me back to what I really wanted to share. For some reason I had never heard the hymn “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” written in 1964 by Henry Longfellow and my life was lacking because of it. This song really struck a chord with me. The King James translates Luke 2:14 in this way: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” While a more modern and scholastic version renders the Greek slightly differently, the intent behind “Peace on Earth, Good will to men” has never been exposited so beautifully. The complete lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” are worth of your pondering, but I wanted to share two of the verses:

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.”

These words, written during the civil war, are difficult, yet filled with the hope that comes again this Christmas. (I would recommend the Casting Crowns, Johnny Cash, or Jars of Clay versions, they are done wonderfully!) In the broken world we live in, what all the difficult things we go through, experience, and see, it is easy to get stuck in that first verse. But in reading the Gospel and delving in to the person of Christ, we are left with hope and grace. That is a good place to be this Christmas.

Selected Previous Christmas Posts:
I Celebrate the Day by Relient K
Dickens Speaks Truth
Get the X out of X-Mas!
Always Winter but Never Christmas
Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

Categories: Daily Life, Religion, Theology Tags:
  1. kim
    December 24th, 2008 at 08:18 | #1

    Well written as always, Matt. Merry Christmas!

  1. January 3rd, 2009 at 15:27 | #1
  2. December 21st, 2009 at 20:54 | #2
  3. December 7th, 2013 at 22:55 | #3