I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And mild and sweet the words repeat:
Peace on Earth, good will to men.
Around Christmas in 2001, I was beginning to work seriously with child abuse prevention and advocacy. There was still a constant stream of information about the 9/11 attacks, and I had gone through a hard break-up. I felt heavy and sad all the time, really feeling like nothing was right in the world. I don't remember what the CD was, but I played it and heard the song's message for the first time. I remember sitting in my car, crying heavily as I heard the words:
Then 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.
Christmas 2005 marked the end of a hard year. We had been through the ringer, and it felt hard to believe my prayers were being heard. I sat in a chapel, silently praying "Do You even hear me anymore? Do You remember that I'm here?" Before I could finish the thought, the organist began playing the song, and again, I found myself crying.
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."
The arrangement in the hymnbook at church is rather repetitive and, I think it sometimes turns people off from the message there. In these simple words, I have found answers, and peace when I couldn't find it anywhere else. We have a history, this song and I.