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Ringing of Bells on Christmas Eve
by Dr. Brad Black 
12/16/09
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Ringing of Bells on Christmas Eve

There is a wonderful old tradition that is hardly done any more, the ringing of the church bells on Christmas Eve. The tradition was that at midnight they would start ringing the bells in a slow, mournful rhythm. This was to represent the death of Satan’s hold on us. Then dramatically the rhythm would change to a quicker, more joyful sound. This would be the announcement of Christ’s birth.

The ringing of the bells on Christmas was a great comfort to one of America’s great poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. On the Christmas Eve of 1963, the slow mournful cadence of the start of the ringing of the bells inspired Henry to write, “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” (See words below)

Henry’s public life was great; he was a college professor in Boston. He had become America’s most outstanding poet by writing, “The Song of Hiawatha,” “The Courtship of Miles Standish,” and the “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” He was invited to England and given an honorary doctorate from Oxford and Cambridge plus a visit to Windsor Castle to visit Queen Victoria.
Henry’s personal life was not going as well. His first wife died within a couple of years of them getting married and he mourned her greatly, it took him seven years before he married again. They had five children. However, tragedy struck again in 1961, his second wife died while lighting a fire in the kitchen, she was burned up along with the kitchen. Then later that year the civil war broke out. Henry was very much against the war and wrote many articles against it. The last straw was when his oldest son Charles was injured during a battle. He was sent home to his father’s house to recover. While sitting at his son’s bedside that Christmas Eve in 1963 he heard the local church bells ring that slow mournful sound. This touched his heart. This is one of the few Christmas carols that is not upbeat, which can be understood from the circumstances behind it. However, look at verse 4, he has hope, and he puts his trust in God. That is all God asks even when we do not understand, we are to put our trust in Him.


1. 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.

2. I 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.

3. 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.'

4. 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.'

5. 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.



If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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