CINCINNATI'S CHRISMAS STAR

The Story Behind "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" is based on a poem by Longfellow. I started reading the story around this song, and it really got ahold of me. Longfellow wrote this song, this poem called "Christmas Bells" during the civil war. Think about this. We're in the middle of a civil war. There's not really any hope of surrender. In the middle of all this turmoil, his son is wounded in battle and crippled. And his wife is killed in an accident in her home. So you can imagine what he's going through, and being that he's a writer, this is where his feelings come out.  

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" is based on him going outside at Christmas time and hearing the bells. The bells remind him that there's peace on earth. That's what the bells do every year. There's peace on earth and goodwill to men, but at the same time, he knows this truth. He's wrestling with the fact that he knows what's going on in the world right now. So, he's trying to reconcile what he knows to be true, what he sees with his eyes, and what he's feeling at that time. In the middle of this poem, he decides, but there is no peace. There's hate, and there's war. It mocks the song of these bells. Why are they even ringing? You can hear him dealing with this issue in his head, and it's like God is speaking to him and soothing his heart as he's writing.  

It's an amazing poem because then you start realizing, you know, the bells ring again in the midst of all this and they're saying God is not dead. He is not asleep. He is going to prevail. He's going to step in, and he's going to bring peace. And the journey that God brought him on and it getting captured in this poem just really inspired me to have it a part of this record.  

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