Longfellow’s Christmas Grief
by Judy Bushy
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote one of my favorite Christmas Carols on Christmas day in 1863. He was a 57 year old widowed father of six children. In 1961.His wife, Fannie’s dress had caught fire.His face was so burned trying to save her that he couldn’t even go to her funeral,. In 1963 his son, Charles Appleton Longfellow left home to join Lincolns Army to fight in the Civil War. Charley got typhoid fever and was out for the Gettysburg battle, but went back. December 1st Henry received a telegram saying Charley was seriously wounded and moved to New Hope Church. When he went to his side, he was told that he might be permanently paralyzed. Fortunately, the bullet missed his spine by a fraction of an inch but the doctor wasn’t sure about his recovery. Back home on Christmas Day, he wrote, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day:
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!
Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South, And with the sound The carols drowned Of peace on earth, good-will to men! It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent, And made forlorn The households born 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.”
A friend, neighbor and sister for 45 years posted on Facebook that this time isn’t so happy for some, and is lonely for others. So, please, share a smile, or greeting, or some time with those who may not have such a joyous celebration. Forgive those who you’ve counted as enemies as the One whse birthday we celebrate has exemplified. And there is plenty of ways to cheer others this time of year. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_16?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=christmas+carols+songbook&sprefix=Christmas+Carols%2Caps%2C329&crid=3IS136133PLNR&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Achristmas+carols+songbook