Musical Encouragement #9- "I Heard the Bells"

As we look around the world, 2,000 years after the birth of Christ, it might be hard to think about peace on earth. All many of us have to do is look at our own lives, our own trials, to long for a sense of peace. It's easy to become discouraged and bogged down with the weight of everyday life. Even joyful things can bring an underlying stress with them, like expecting the birth of a child or starting a new job.

Yesterday I had the joy of leading my first Christmas concert at my new church. While the concert turned out to be a wonderful thing, there was a lot of stress and worry leading up to it. One of my favorite choral songs I like to sing at Christmas is this new arrangement of I Heard the Bells. It takes the familiar words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and matches them to a powerful tune. The words of the second verse seem to echo the sentiment I mentioned above, how it's hard to see peace on earth amid the evil of this world.

But, peace isn't based on our perception of circumstances. It's based on the truth of God's Word and the fact that Christ has come to bring peace. He didn't bring the war-ending, famine-finishing, death-destroying peace... at least not yet. He brought the peace that was needed between God and men. I hope this song is a good reminder of the Prince of Peace and the hope that came with His birth.


I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day (Peace on Earth)
words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
choral arrangement from Bernie Herms, Mark Hall, and Dale Oliver

I heard the bells on Christmas Day,
their old familiar carols play;
and mild and sweet their songs repeat
of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

Chorus:
And the bells are ringing: "Peace on earth."
In my heart I hear them: "Peace on earth."
Like a choir, they're singing: "Peace on earth, goodwill 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, goodwill to men."

Chorus:
But the bells are ringing: "Peace on earth."
Like a choir, they're singing: "Peace on earth, goodwill to men."
Does anybody hear them? "Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

Then rang the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;"
Peace on earth, peace on earth
"The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men."

Then ringing, singing on its way,
the world revolved from night to day.
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
of peace on earth, goodwill to men.

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