Sherwood Oaks Blog

The Gift of Peace

Posted by Tom Ellsworth on

Among the songs of Christmas that ring with the theme of peace, one grew out of a period of history that was anything but peaceful.    

One of my favorite songs is a truly American Christmas carol, written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  Tragedy struck the Longfellow family in July of 1861 when Mrs. Longfellow died in a tragic fire.   That following Christmas, Henry wrote in his journal, “How inexpressibly sad are all holidays. I can make no record of these days. Better to leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”  His journal entry of 1862 read, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.”    

Almost two years after the death of his wife, Longfellow received word that his oldest son Charles, a lieutenant in the Union Army had been severely wounded in battle.  Longfellow’s journal entry on that Christmas of 1863 is empty.  However, Charles did not die, and on Christmas morning 1864 his father wrote a poem that became the carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  Read again that triumphant last stanza:


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!"

That’s the message of Christmas.  May God grant you peace and good will as you celebrate the birth of His Son!

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