Thursday, December 13, 2012

Civil War Era Christmas Carol--True Story

A Mournful Christmas Eve 1863--Thomas Nast
The lyrics to the Christmas Carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day' were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas 1863. It is more of a mental struggle to continue on than a carol. His circumstances were difficult. His oldest son, Charles aged seventeen, had run off to join the Union Army, and although the family strongly supported the abolitionist cause, the thought his boy in the midst of the chaos and danger created a very melancholy and philosophical poem. His second wife had died in an accident three years before; his first wife in childbirth.

So the imminent prospect of his son entering the gruesome War was not the only stressor oppressing the poet's thoughts. The poem reveals his inner struggle. Longfellow fully realizes the tragic powers at work in his life. But, as with his other poems, despite the darkness, he finds the glow of hope. This poem reaches out to all of us suffering loss and worry for our loved ones, whatever war may be threatening them.

Charley was seriously wounded, but lived to become an excellent soldier. 

Ed Herrman with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Longfellow's Christmas! 

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!
Charles Appleton Longfellow
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
Henry Wadsworht Longfellow
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."

This version of the carol just came out  on 'Holidays Rule.' Its by the Civl Wars
The Civil Wars -- I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day 

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