‘I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day’- Historical Background

Christmas bulb on tree

Christmas bulb on tree

At seasonal times of the year, we often sing songs without knowing their background, or even sing all of the verses. One of the songs we sing is I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. Here’s the rest of the story.

Family Background

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was in a deep depression in 1861 when his second wife died. Her death was a turning point in his life.He had six children to raise. He grew a beard to hide disfigurements due to a fire his wife and he had been in. They had been married 18 years. Then, in 1863 his son joined the military to fight with the Union in the Civil War. Receiving an injury, Longfellow traveled to Washington to bring his injured son home in Massachusetts for recovery.

Song Writing

They arrived on December 8, in a bleak, cold winter. Discouraged by life happenings and the nation at war, Longfellow was inspired when he heard Christmas bells ringing. That inspired him to write the poem. This poem would later be published in a magazine. In 1872 this same poem was set to music for more people to receive comfort. The song is written to offer hope to each individual, no matter how dark the times are.

The words are as impressive nowadays as they were over a hundred years ago. One can read the entire song here. 

One realizes that nothing is a surprise to God; He will prevail.

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