History of a Special Christmas Carol

December 19 2017

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

This popular Christmas carol is based on the 1863 poem "Christmas Bells" by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song tells of the narrator's despair, upon hearing Christmas bells, that "hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men." The carol concludes with the bells carrying renewed hope for peace among men. Many regard Longfellow as America's greatest poet. The first Longfellow came to the U.S. from Yorkshire, England, in 1676. Henry was born to a prominent New England Lawyer in 1807. He became a respected scholar and was a college professor at the age of 19.

Wadsworth had many tragedies in his life. His first wife Mary had a miscarriage six months into her pregnancy and died a few weeks later while they were en route to Europe.

It was seven years before he recovered from his loss to remarry. Together they had five children, but again tragedy happened.

On July 11, 1861, his wife Fanny had clipped some long curls from the head of her 7-year-old daughter, Edith. Wanting to save them in an envelope, she placed the curls inside, then melted a bar of sealing wax with a candle to seal the envelope.

Somehow, the thin fabric of her clothing caught fire, and Fanny quickly ran to Longfellow’s nearby study for help. He immediately tried to extinguish the flames with a small rug, and when that failed, he threw his arms around Fanny to smother the flames, sustaining serious burns on his own face, arms, and hands. Tragically, his heroic act did not suffice to save his wife. Fanny died the next morning from injuries. Longfellow himself was injured to the point where he was unable to attend the funeral.

Photographs of Longfellow taken or made after the fire usually show him with a full beard, since he was no longer able to shave properly due to the burns and scarring.

The coming of the holiday season in the Longfellow house became a time of grieving for his wife while trying to provide a happy time for the children left at home. It was during Christmas 1862 that he wrote in his journal, “A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”

He had also suffered another disappointment when his oldest son, Charles Appleton “Charley” Longfellow, 17 at the time, quietly left their Cambridge, Mass., home and enlisted in the Union Army much against the wishes of his father. The Christmas of 1863 was silent in his journal.

Later, Charlie was injured. He was hit in the shoulder, and the ricocheting bullet took out portions of several vertebrae. It was reported that he missed being paralyzed by less than one inch. Longfellow traveled to where his injured son was hospitalized and brought him home to Cambridge to recover.

But then, on December 25, 1864, he wrote the words of this poem. Perhaps it was the re-election of Abraham Lincoln, the possible end of the terrible war, or a deep, renewed hope that stirred in his soul which brought us this timeless message.

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!” His original words spoke of “each black accursed mouth the cannon thundered in the South” and 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!”

The music to this American poem were written by an Englishman named John Baptiste Calkin.

When published, this combination of British music and American lyrics quickly made “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day one of the most popular carols in both Europe and the United States.”

Tags: christmas carol, bells of christmas, longfellow,

One Mission Stories "After the Show" - Christmas Drama

December 17 2014

We hope you enjoyed Sunday night's (Dec. 21) One Mission Stories, OMS' radio program, It's a Wonderful Christmas, Carol," a special evangelistic Christmas drama presentation in which 23 OMSers were used as voice actors.

Here are our "After the Show" resources to better connect you with One Mission Society.

GO: Do you want to be a missionary, either short- or long-term with OMS? Check out the opportunities, including all the upcoming short-term trips with MFM.

Learn about the Loja (Ecuador) Challenge 2015! Check out the Facebook page. This is a 1-year opportunity for younger missionaries.

GIVE: If you would like to donate to any OMS ministries, you can do so online.

PRAY: If you would like to pray for other OMS needs, visit our OMS prayer wall.

COMMUNICATION RESOURCES, including a live link to Freedom 95 and our podcasts of all our archived radio programs: http://oms.media/

BOOKS/RESOURCES: You can purchase all OMS books through our OMS store on Amazon or by contacting the OMS World HQ... call or email Barb Sandoz at 317.888.3333, ext. 313, or email bsandoz@onemissionsociety.org.

If you'd like a FREE copy of His Banner Over Me by Florence Cavender, mentioned on the program, write to radio@onemissionsociety.org and just put His Banner book in the subject line. The first 100 to respond will receive this free.

OMS Outreach magazine was also mentioned on the broadcast. If you'd like to view the magazine, you can see it online here.

To connect your kids to fun mission activities, check out our One Mission Kids website.

INFO: Tune in to next week's One Mission Stories to hear another fun hour of Christmas stories from OMS missionaries serving around the world. If you would like to know more about any of our ministries around the world, please email us at radio@onemissionsociety.org.

If you missed this program or any of our previous programs, click here to listen to the broadcast/podcast on podbean.

Each week, you can listen live on Freedom 95 at 95.9 FM or 950 AM or live streaming at www.freedom95.us. Our programs air every Sunday night from 7-8 p.m.

Tags: christmas drama, it's a wonderful life, a christmas carol, missions,