Monday, December 17, 2012

There Is No Peace On Earth

With the pain of grief from Newtown, Connecticut still fresh among us, I have little that I can write that will quickly sooth or speed up the healing process.

I must simply quote from the pen of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow through a poem written in 1863 during the bloody chaos of the American Civil War. In the mingled despair and hope of his day, he writes:

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."

To give a more cultural context to Longfellow's torn demeanor, I included all of his original work. The fourth and fifth verses are often omitted in the hymn that is sung to a tune given to the poem by John Baptiste Calkin in 1872, and the third stanza is usually shifted down to the final verse.

Longfellow's pain, with what is occuring in his world, is very real and drives the composition of this work. But his trust in what the Christmas message heralds, gives him the hope that Jesus himself embodies and provides.

The familiar Christmas narrative in Luke 2 has a theme that puts “Peace on earth, Good will to men” in a hopeful light as the Messiah makes his human entrance. But the radical Jesus later informed us, through the disciples, that the earth cannot fully contain this virtue. He gave us a “heads-up” in John 16:33, when he said:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

May Jesus, God's Messiah, mend our broken hearts with his love and peace in this troubled world.


Anonymous said...

Ideally, your bedroom should be comfortable and practical.
Let the glue dry completely before you start working on the nightstand.
Bedroom linens and other elements of bedroom furnishing
from Bella Notte elevate the beauty quotient of bedroom.

Feel free to surf to my website - beach bedroom decor

Anonymous said...

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all people you actually recognize what you're talking about! Bookmarked. Kindly additionally visit my site =). We could have a link change agreement between us

Also visit my page buy phen375 canada