I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

Author: Amy Zullo
December 06, 2022

I was involved in a discussion the other night of favorite Christmas hymns.  As members of the group shared their favorites such as Silent Night, O Holy Night, Joy to the World, and O Come All Ye Faithful, I nodded along as I love all of those, too.  It is very difficult to pick one favorite Christmas song.  However, my choice was I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. 

Part of my fondness for this song is that it was one of my mom’s favorites. I have memories of her sitting down at the piano in our living room and playing this and other Christmas carols.  There was always something very moving about this song and the way she played it.  (The other Christmas hymn that brings back particular memories of my mom is Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.  This one is a silly memory. One Christmas Eve service, as we were singing this song, she suddenly realized that she had forgotten her offering envelope and so without missing a beat, she leaned over and sang to me, “Hark the herald angels sing, I forgot my offering.”)
I often find myself thinking of the words of the third verse as they seem as appropriate today as they did when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote them on Christmas Day 1863. 

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.”

We seem deeply divided and peace a distant, impossible dream.  But the words of the fourth verse proclaim that hate does not have the final word.

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.”

This is what a cling to, that God is with us, wrong shall ultimately fail and right will prevail. 

The group, Casting Crowns, does a beautiful rendition of this hymn.  I encourage you to go on YouTube and listen to it.


Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church
300 East Simpson Street | Mechanicsburg, PA 17055