Thursday, November 20, 2008

Carols #1 - I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day & and an Exchange

True Confessions - I am a Christmas music junkie! Recently I bought the Christmas CD by Casting Crowns. The first song, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is absolutely gorgeous. (Click on the arrow underneath the song title on the top right, if you'd like to hear it.) They rearranged the lyrics to a different tune and in the CD leaflet gave the history.
Henry W. Longfellow wrote the lyrics after a time of great despair during the Civil War. It was Christmas Day, 1864, about six months before the War ended. He wrote seven stanzas including two about the War. He himself had been through tragedy with his wife's horrible death a few years before and recently heard that his son was seriously injured -crippled- in the War. This particular year (maybe with the hope that the War was coming to an end) he heard the bells ringing on Christmas Day reminding him of hope in God for peace. He wrote in the poem of the earlier years of war and then ended it with this knowledge of God's presence. The two stanzas about the Civil War were removed and the poem was made into a carol in the 1870's. What a moving story....
Here are the five stanzas now used. I was fascinated and touched by the whole history. Yes, we can have hope and peace, regardless of our current circumstances. :)

"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 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!

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!"

The picture at the top is one I'd like to stitch in the future. This was posted as someone's finish last year and I was able to find it. It came from "Cross Stitch and Country Crafts" Jan./Feb. 1996 and was designed by Patricia Andrle.

Below is my wonderful ornament exchange from Diane in my ILCS group. Much thanks - it's so pretty!


Kathy said...

Yes, that carol is one of my favorites also. I love the history behind it. I'll remember it's story the next time I sit and listen to it. Thank you.

Lizzy said...

Oh, seems we have even more in common, Carolyn! I just love Christmas Carols and go around singing them all year long... at the drop of a hat I may burst into song... Sleigh bells ring... are you listening??? It's long been a laugh between me and my kids, and we used to have quite the laugh amongst ourselves as they all seemed to inherit it from me! lol And I watch Christmas films year round as well! :-)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day is one of my faves! And yes, isn't the History behind the song so very touching! I just love Longfellow! And what a lovely version of the song! Anyway, I love the stitched piece of Christmas Bells... I'll have to search for it on eBay as I'd love to stitch it as well!

And what a lovely ornament from Diane and how pretty and special it will be hanging on your tree! A memorable treasure indeed! :-)

{{{Hugs}}} and Happy Stitching...

Rene la Frog said...

I'm a Christmas Carol junkie too. The older traditional ones are my favorites. I love the story behind "Bells".

That is a great ornament, you can tell that alot of care and love went into the stitching.

Shari said...

very pretty ornament & I love the song!!!! I have started playing my Christmas music as well! I want my husband to teach me how to put songs on the computer, so I can put them on my I-pod!

Sharon said...

I love carols too. This is a beautiful song. Lovely ornie and that project is going to be a beautiful one to stitch.

J Rae said...

What a touching story behind the song. That is a beautiful version of the song. Will have to try and find that Casting Crowns CD. I also love that cross-stitch design. Very pretty.

Speaking of that song...many years ago I went to my brother's house for Christmas. We generally never went anywhere for Christmas so this was quite a change. It had not been a good year for me and I was feeling very down that Christmas. I went out on the balcony of his house (they lived in a small, wooded Atlanta suburb) for some peace and quiet. As I sat there in the far distance I heard the church bells ringing Christmas songs. They seemed to softly drift across this small little valley area on the wind. It was so beautiful and peaceful. Every time I hear that song, I think of that day.

Beth said...

Thank you for the history lesson. I love Civil War history and that story was indeed interesting! The song is gorgeous! I'm still listening to it.


Donna said...

How pretty the ornie. I love the history (even when I screw it up!) of different songs and traditions around the holiday. Thanks for sharing!

Lisa said...

Carolyn - reat pics on your blog! You posted on my blog asking about the freebie F pattern.... here is the link -

Thanks, Lisa

Meari said...

Pretty ornament!

Lori said...

the first picture reminded me of Michael Powells xs pics! very nice!

Louisiana Momma said...

I luv christmas too!! I would've had my decorations up last week if it hadn't been so busy around here.. but i am looking at doing it this weekend.. heck - I might even get out my favorite christmas cd - Aaron Neville :-) Oh and the ornie is too cute :-)

Anna said...

Hi Carolyn:

I love your choice of music. Your stitching is also lovely

Love and hugs

Gabi said...

Beautiful song. Didn't know that one yet. And that future WIP is lovely, so is the ornament you received. I liked also to read about the history of the song. Thanks for sharing this information. :)

kaghos said...

that is beautiful

robert said...

Great to hear from yet another lover of Christmas carols. I look forward to the music of Christmas every year about this time.

And if you’ll excuse a brief “commercial:” With the arrival of fall, we begin to think of the Christmas season up ahead. If you do not have a good book on the subject of our Christmas carols, I encourage you to take a look at mine, Discovering the Songs of Christmas. In it, I discuss the history and meaning of 63 carols and Christmas hymns. The book is available through Amazon, or directly from Jebaire Publishing. (Might make a great gift too!)