The Story of the Christmas song, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

photo of steeple during daytime

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In March of 1863, 18-year-old Charles Appleton Longfellow walked out of his family’s house on Brattle Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and—unbeknownst to his family—boarded a train bound for Washington, D.C., traveling over 400 miles across the eastern seaboard in order to join President Lincoln’s Union army to fight in the Civil War.

Charles (b. June 9, 1844) was the oldest of six children born to Fannie Elizabeth Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the celebrated literary critic and poet. Charles had five younger siblings: a brother (aged 17) and three sisters (ages 13, 10, 8—another one had died as an infant).

Less than two years earlier, Charles’s mother Fannie had tragically died after her dress caught on fire. Her husband, awoken from a nap, tried to extinguish the flames as best he could, first with a rug and then his own body, but she had already suffered severe burns. She died the next morning (July 10, 1861), and Henry Longfellow’s facial burns were severe enough that he was unable even to attend his own wife’s funeral. He would grow a beard to hide his burned face and at times feared that he would be sent to an asylum on account of his grief.

When Charley (as he was called) arrived in Washington D.C., he sought to enlist as a private with the 1st Massachusetts Artillery. Captain W. H. McCartney, commander of Battery A, wrote to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for written permission for Charley to become a soldier. HWL (as his son referred to him) granted the permission.

Longfellow later wrote to his friends Charles Sumner (senator from Massachusetts), John Andrew (governor of Massachusetts), and Edward Dalton (medical inspector of the Sixth Army Corps) to lobby for his son to become an officer. But Charley had already impressed his fellow soldiers and superiors with his skills, and on March 27, 1863, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, assigned to Company “G.”

After participating on the fringe of the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia (April 30-May 6, 1863), Charley fell ill with typhoid fever and was sent home to recover. He rejoined his unit on August 15, 1863, having missed the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863).

While dining at home on December 1, 1863, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow received a telegram that his son had been severely wounded four days earlier. On November 27, 1863, while involved in a skirmish during a battle of the Mine Run Campaign, Charley was shot through the left shoulder, with the bullet exiting under his right shoulder blade. It had traveled across his back and skimmed his spine. Charley avoided being paralyzed by less than an inch.

He was carried into New Hope Church (Orange County, Virginia) and then transported to the Rapidan River. Charley’s father and younger brother, Ernest, immediately set out for Washington, D.C., arriving on December 3. Charley arrived by train on December 5. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was alarmed when informed by the army surgeon that his son’s wound “was very serious” and that “paralysis might ensue.” Three surgeons gave a more favorable report that evening, suggesting a recovery that would require him to be “long in healing,” at least six months.

On Christmas day, 1863, Longfellow—a 57-year-old widowed father of six children, the oldest of which had been nearly paralyzed as his country fought a war against itself—wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him. He heard the Christmas bells that December day and the singing of “peace on earth” (Luke 2:14), but he observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook. The theme of listening recurred throughout the poem, eventually leading to a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.

You can hear the song HERE or You can read the whole poem/song below…

“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.”

Article Credit: Justin Taylor, “The Christian Coalition”

The “Twelve Days of Christmas” Explained

Nativity

Photo Credit: Hoejin Yang via Flickr

Millions of people know the vintage Christmas song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” It is one of the most well-known and beloved songs of the holiday season. But, do you know what each item in the song represents? Well…good news! Today you are going to discover what each “Day” represents. I think that you will find the following read VERY interesting!

Day 1: “The partridge in a pear tree” is Jesus Christ

Day 2: “Two turtle doves” are the Old and New Testaments

Day 3: “Three French Hens” stand for Faith, Hope, and Charity

Day 4: “Four Calling Birds” are the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark Luke, and John

Day 5: “Five Golden Rings” recall the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old testament.

Day 6: “Six Geese A-Laying” stand for the six days of creation

Day 7: “Seven Swans Are Swimming” represent the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy

Day 8: “Eight Maids A-Milking” are the eight Beatitudes

Day 9: “Nine Ladies Dancing” are the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control

Day 10: “Ten Lords Are Leaping” are the Ten Commandments

Day 11: “Eleven Pipers Piping” stand for the eleven faithful disciples

Day 12: “Twelve Drummers Drumming” symbolizes the twelve points in the Apostle’s Creed.

So, there is your history lesson for today! 🙂

The Incredible Power of Music

turned on black samsung smartphone between headphones

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Music. Its power and effect on people are unmistakable. It can soothe and comfort the soul, it can create an air of nostalgia, make that special moment more romantic, make you mad, make you sad, the list goes on an on.

It’s funny how sometimes the small things in life can make such a huge impact on other people’s lives and we don’t even know it.

We all are aware of how our actions can affect an individual’s well being, etc. but what about other things that we may use every day? Music can affect people’s lives in many ways… take watching a movie as an example. Imagine if you were watching a sad movie and the background music was a fast-moving pop song. Or imagine viewing a scary movie and ballet music was playing in the background? The music would not fit into the movie and you wouldn’t enjoy the film…..but used correctly, music has a huge impact on the total movie-watching experience.

Another example of music’s effect is how well music “can soothe the soul” or how athletes sometimes use loud music to get “pumped up” for a game.

Music can be used in many ways and affect every person differently.

In today’s story (it’s actually a video), watch how the power of music totally transformed this old man’s state of wellness. It’s inspiring, beautiful, and heartwarming. The power of music…AMAZING!

If You Like Fiddler / Violin Music…This Is For You!!

I LOVE good music that involves fiddles or violins. I really enjoy listening to good country and bluegrass music. I can listen to fiddlers all day long!! This is one of the reasons why I love to listen to this new up and coming star, Lindsay Stirling.

So, when I found this video of hers, I thought it would, again, be an uplifting share. You can enjoy the previous two videos that I posted of her and her work on two of my previously posts, “I Dare You NOT to Smile!” and “This Video Will Certainly Make Your Day”

So, sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy this song…”Spontaneous Me”

Laughter (Really Is) the Best Medicine

Photo Credit: Seth Lemmons via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Seth Lemmons via CC Flickr

It has been said down through the ages, that “laughter is the best medicine.” Who doesn’t like a good, hearty laugh or a good chuckle or a simple giggle? We all enjoy a good laugh…Why? Because it is not only fun…it feels good! It is soothing to the soul and can make the worst of days into a good one almost instantly.

Laughter is good for the body and soul. It has been proven to be have many positive effects on a person’s well-being. It produces helpful hormones that fight stress, effects the immune system and in many cases, also helps lower blood pressure.

The following story is a story that I had heard many years ago. I finally found a copy of it and I am still amazed at the power of laughter and positive thinking. It is my hope that this story will inspire you and for those of you who are suffering from physically or emotionally. I pray that it will help you to find ways to think of your life in a positive fashion and it will lead you to find ways to heal your body and soul.

——————-
Many years ago, Norman Cousins was diagnosed as “terminally ill”. He was given six months to live. His chance for recovery was 1 in 500.

He could see the worry, depression and anger in his life contributed to, and perhaps helped cause, his disease. He wondered, “If illness can be caused by negativity, can wellness be created by positivity?”

He decided to make an experiment of himself. Laughter was one of the most positive activities he knew. He rented all the funny movies he could find – Keaton, Chaplin, Fields, the Marx Brothers. (This was before VCRs, so he had to rent the actual films.) He read funny stories. He asked his friends to call him whenever they said, heard or did something funny.

His pain was so great he could not sleep. Laughing for 10 solid minutes, he found, relieved the pain for several hours so he could sleep.

He fully recovered from his illness and lived another 20 happy, healthy and productive years. (His journey is detailed in his book, Anatomy of an Illness.) He credits visualization, the love of his family and friends, and laughter for his recovery.
________________________________________
Some people think laughter is a waste of time. It is a luxury, they say, a frivolity, something to indulge in only every so often.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Laughter is essential to our equilibrium, to our well-being, to our aliveness. If we’re not well, laughter helps us get well; if we are well, laughter helps us stay that way.
Since Cousins’ ground-breaking subjective work, scientific studies have shown that laughter has a curative effect on the body, the mind and the emotions.

So, if you like laughter, consider it sound medical advice to indulge in it as often as you can. If you don’t like laughter, then take your medicine – laugh anyway.

Use whatever makes you laugh – movies, sitcoms, Monty Python, records, books, New Yorker cartoons, jokes, friends.

Give yourself permission to laugh – long and loud and out loud – whenever anything strikes you as funny. The people around you may think you’re strange, but sooner or later they’ll join in even if they don’t know what you’re laughing about.

Some diseases may be contagious, but none is as contagious as the cure. . . laughter.

———————

By Peter McWilliams
From “Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul”

The Amazing Power of Music!

It’s funny how sometimes the small things in life can make such a huge impact on other people’s life and we don’t even know it.
We all are aware of how our actions can affect an individual’s well being, etc. but what about other things that we may use every day? Music can effect people’s lives in many ways… take watching a movie as an example. Imagine if you were watching a sad movie and the background music was a fast-moving pop song. Or imagine viewing a scary movie and ballet music was playing in the background? The music would not fit in to the movie and you wouldn’t enjoy the film…..but used correctly, music has a huge impact on the total movie-watching experience.
Another example of music’s effect is how well music “can soothe the soul” or how athletes sometimes use loud music to get “pumped up” for a game.
Music can be used in many ways and effect every person differently.
In today’s story (it’s actually a video), watch how the power of music totally transformed this old man’s state of wellness. It’s inspiring, beautiful, and heart warming. The power of music…amazing.