I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day

A little late for Christmas but I meant to post this song and totally forgot.It was recorded live on December 27th during communion. This Henry Longfellow hymn (1864) is a dangerous one to rewrite because so many people are familiar with the old tune. I usually try to steer away from rewriting well known beloved hymns as to not “ruin the song”. However, I wasn’t familiar with it so I didn’t know what I was messing with until I started playing it for our congregation in 2008. It has an especially dark tone as it was written during the Civil War. You can check out the lesser known verses here if you are interested. I  adjusted the lyrics a touch to make them more about the internal world. Sorry if I butchered it too much for you. Never the less, I thought I would share it late or not.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day   (listen)   (chart)

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the news of Christ repeats.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled around the world with unbroken song. 

Of Peace on earth, good will toward man
My Savior is born in Bethlehem
The herald swells, throughout the realms of hell and heav’n,
Of peace on earth, good will toward man

But in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace in me,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the holy songs”

Then out from the Accusers cursed mouth
My secret evils thundered out,
And with the cruel sound the carols drowned

Of Peace on earth, good will toward man,
The Savior is born in Bethlehem
The herald swells, throughout the realms of hell and heav’n,
Of peace on earth, good will toward man.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“Jesus has died and ris’n a King;
The wrong shall fail, the Lamb of God prevail.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the news of Christ repeats.

Of Peace on earth, good will toward man,
The Savior is born in Bethlehem
The herald swells, throughout the realms of hell and heav’n,
Of peace on earth, good will toward man.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day

  1. Nathan-

    This is a song that I have come to love over the last several years, especially the original phrase, “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, ‘God is not dead, nor doth he sleep'” What that says rings (no pun intended) so deeply in my heart, our God is not dead nor is he silently sleeping.

    I like what you’ve done with it though. There are parts in the original that didn’t resonate as deeply with me, I think mainly because the context of the song was very specific. Updating it as you have done has opened it up more and reminded all of us, as you wrote, that it is not the ‘right’ who prevail, but the Lamb of God.

    Thank you brother for your continued faithfulness in writing original and updated music for the church to continue in the worship of our Lord and King.

    grace,
    Justin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s