"Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14)

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.”

(I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1864)

I read the tragic and beautiful story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and how this classic song of the Christmas season came to be, and it was another timeless reminder of what keeps us going in the most horrific times: Hope.

He experienced the terrible loss of his wife to an accidental fire in their home, and his son was severely injured in battle during the American Civil War. His journal writings that first year or two after losing his wife, were somber, sad and of despair. The timing of the writing of this hymn which was originally a poem called “Christmas Bells” came on Christmas Day of 1864. Speculation as to the timing of it points to the re-election of Abraham Lincoln or the end of a terrible war. The poem was eventually put into song by John Baptiste Calkin in 1872 with some minor changes to the stanzas included in the hymn as we know it. I can’t help feeling a deep connection to that generation’s experiences during that time of war in our country, and how similar the state of mind is now with the upheaval and chaos we are living in today. There is such a need for hope, for peace, as much now as any time in our nation’s history. As I reflect back on this past year and what our family has experienced, our accomplishments, our failures, everything God has allowed to happen…I have hope.

I have hope, because I have Jesus.
I have hope, because I know I am loved.
I have hope, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I am truly blessed.
I have hope, because God is faithful.
I have hope, because as this world crumbles I know the coming of my Lord is near.
I have hope, and I will share it with others.

Why am I so overwrought?
Why am I so disturbed?
Why can’t I just hope in God?
Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One
who saves me and is my life.
(Psalm 42:5)

Merry Christmas and Blessed Happy New Year from our family to yours!
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