"Ringing Out The News" -- Rev. Joy Mounts

Ringing Out The News

“Christmas Bells”
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 allChristendom
     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."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863

Longfellow wrote this poem on Christmas Day in 1863 after several more than difficult years. He was grieving his beloved wife who had died in a tragic fire.  His son had  run off in March to join the Union Army without his permission and come home in November severely wounded. He would recover but Longfellow didn’t know that when he was writing. Where was hope? Where was peace? He felt lost and worried. The world seemed like it was falling apart to never be put back together again. Where was God in all of this? To encourage himself and find an answer to that question he was inspired to write this poem, one that has inspired countless others who have read it or sung the carol version.

Longfellow later said writing the poem helped him to find a measure of peace. It helped to remind him that God was with him even in the chaotic times he lived in. With him in the midst of  his sorrow,  to  help  him  begin  to  heal  and  be  present again with the rest of his family.
There are times we can all use hope and encouragement. Those moments when the light sometimes seems to dim and we need to be reassured that the Light that has come into the world  has not, and will not, ever be extinguished. Maybe the words of this poem or a favorite carol will help to do that for you. Maybe it is hearing that old familiar Story of a night over two thousand years ago. The message remains the same. Emanuel, God is with us, now and always. And that is something that we can all hold into in this Season and every season.

Wishing you a blessed Advent and Christmas!