Ringing out age-old message of peace


Will church bells ring on Christmas this year?

They rang 150 years ago, and Henry W. Longfellow heard them on Christmas day. He got emotional about it and wrote a poem we sing every year — “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

The year was 1864, and America was at war with herself.

Moved by the sound of the bells playing “old familiar carols” and with the continuous theme of “peace on earth, goodwill to men,” Longfellow started thinking.

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He bowed his head in despair and sorrow then wrote, “There is no peace on Earth … For hate is strong and mocks the song Of peace on Earth, good will to men.”

Today, we live in the same world where hate, fighting, war, crime, anger, quarreling, killing and all other manner of evil are still present. Such things go back to when Cain killed Abel and will continue on into the future.

Now at Christmas time, we think of Jesus being born into this world to end strife and conflict.

Isaiah the prophet called Jesus the Prince of Peace and then wrote, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:7)

It was the appearance of contradiction that troubled Longfellow, and it bothers us too.

He continued to think about this. The bells continued ringing out the message “Of peace on Earth, good will to men.”

Suddenly it happened,

the fog lifted, all became clear and peace of mind was restored.

Then he wrote the fourth verse — “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.’”

In this world, war and hate will be found in each generation.

If we make peace with God, then the peace on Earth will be felt in our hearts. This peace will never end no matter how much hate and killing there is in the world around us.

Longfellow concluded, God will have the

last word.

The Rev. David Parry, pastor at First Church of God in Seymour, 625 E. Fourth St., writes a column for The Tribune two times a month.

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