Daily Encouragement Net Header
The on line Bible teaching ministry of Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Home   About Us  Archives   Free email subscription   ListenListen to these messages
Contact Us
  Print Text only for printing
  Bookmark and Share  

Make A Donation
 See here for more info.

<Previous Message                           Next Message>

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Heard The Bell On Christmas Day

"Hearing The Bells"

ListenListen to this message on your audio player.

"Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more" (Matthew 2:16-18).

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!

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" is a Christmas Carol written 150 years ago by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote it for a church in Boston, MA during the cruel miseries of the Civil War but he also had his own personal cruel miseries. My cousin George Steincross, who is a retired minister, sent us an article about some additional details we do not recall reading before. The story is developed from a newsletter of a church he had pastored in Alabama.*

In the summer of 1861 - mere months after the Civil War began - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow lost his wife Fanny in a tragic accident. One night while trimming their daughter’s hair by candlelight, a few drops of hot wax fell on her nightgown and ignited when a gust of wind came through the window.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Longfellow did his best to save her but she was burned too badly, and he ended up with severe burns on his face & hands. Longfellow, of course, was distraught. His trademark full beard was a direct result of his mourning, as he claimed he no longer had the energy to shave.

Christmas is hardest on the bereaved and Longfellow was no exception. On December 25, 1861, the first year without his wife, he wrote in his journal: “How inexpressibly sad are all the holidays.” Exactly one year, this is the entry: “‘A merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.” On Christmas of 1863 his journal was left blank.

But then, on December 25, 1864 - mere months before the Civil war ended - Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas day and found peace. On that day he wrote this soul-stirring poem.

The beautiful chiming bells of Christmas reminded Longfellow that God was still in command and in His pre-ordained time He would cause the right to triumph. Our loving Father would bring the sounds of peace and good will to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls.

We associate Christmas with love, joy, and peace. but in the same Scriptural narrative concerning the birth of Christ there is the written record of widespread evil. We know the story but it's not a section of the Christmas narrative we tend to focus on. We might even prefer to skip over it since the backdrop seems to be unconducive to what we perceive as the proper setting for the Christ Child's arrival.

Herod's slaughter King Herod, in an effort to dispose of the Christ Child King, ordered his soldiers to kill "all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under" (Matthew 2:16). What a horrible slaughter this must have been. Herod was an evil man. I also consider the moral depravity of the soldiers in carrying out such an evil command. Even though we know Herod's motivation there is no reason to believe the inhabitants of Bethlehem did. Can you envision the terror of that night?

One can only imagine the inconsolable agony of all who resided in Bethlehem. Surely each family was affected, directly or indirectly. The act fulfilled an ancient prophecy by Jeremiah, "Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more" (Matthew 2:17-18).

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day Deep grief and despair has always existed in the human experience since the original fall.

 On Christmas Day, 1864, Henry Longfellow gave vent to his feelings in this plaintive carol that can only be understood against the backdrop of war. Two stanzas now omitted from most hymnals speak of the cannons thundering in the South and of hatred tearing apart "the hearth-stones of a continent." The poet drops his head in despair, but then he hears the ringing of Christmas bells. Their triumphant pealing reminds him that "God is not dead nor doth He sleep,"

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.”

We who believe in Christ still live in a fallen world with so much evil and unrest. As we see more and more of those who vehemently reject the Way of Christ (John 14:6, Acts 9:2) we see evil increase (see Matthew 24:12).

The peace of which the angels sang is not speaking of the external circumstances that surround us. Rather it is the peace that Christ imparts within our hearts when we know Him as Savior and Lord. The Prince of Peace reigning within our hearts is truly a gift from God that surpasses all other gifts. Won't you receive the Christ of Christmas today!

The song even seems to look forward prophetically to a time yet future for us:

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.

May the Lord enable us to hear the bells!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, our hearts are heavy when we awaken each day with widespread evil, whether it's in our region of the world or in a distant land like Pakistan where over 100 innocent children were slaughtered by Islamic terrorists overnight. It could drive us to despair when we consider the continuous chipping away of Biblical morals and godly restraint sweeping across the globe. Additionally so many deal with these troubling situations through a politically correct lens instead of the black and white truth. The only lasting answer to our soul's diseases and widespread evil is provided for us in the arrival of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Though the majority reject Your answer for our sin problem, how grateful that Jesus still came, for He lives within the hearts of those who see their need and receive His forgiveness. In the midst of the prevailing darkness, like Longfellow, we declare that You are not dead and You do not sleep. Darkness is a temporary state, but Yours is an everlasting light.  The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee, O God of light! Amen.

* In researching for this message online we note that there are some discrepancies regarding specific details among the various accounts.
On the anniversary of the accident he wrote in his journal: “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence.  Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”

DonateSpecial Note: We want to thank all who have financially supported our ministry this past year. We typically see a spike in giving at the end of the year for which we are most thankful. We realize there are many fine ministries and causes requesting support at this time but if the Lord would lead you we surely need and appreciate the financial support from our readers and listeners. Our ministry (and support) is essentially comprised of half our time to Daily Encouragement and the other half to our chaplaincy ministry to companies (of course, this varies week by week). Each of these ministries essentially is the same as a part-time job for each of us (20+ hours weekly). Our goal for many years is that each phase would provide half of our ministry expenses and family income. You can donate by check, online or using PayPal. If you would like to make a donation see here for more information or donate directly online here. Thank you!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"  Video  Casting Crowns  A very moving version of the song.

"I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day"  Video  Traditional version by Steven Curtis Chapman

"All Is Well"  Video  

The story behind "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day" (
Robert J. Morgan tells the story in "Then Sings My Soul" Book 2)

Resources for Christmas Celebrations
(We will leave these resources posted below our daily messages through Christmas)

Each year we share several online resources that we have used over the years and that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season.

"In Remembrance of Me" pdf  This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services over the years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.

"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with and love the tune.

Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18  pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him"  pdf

My First Christmas In Heaven  This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year.  This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.  

Christmas Knowledge Test

We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).

Are you Christmas shopping online?

Daily Encouragement Net is an affiliate of Amazon. Any orders placed to Amazon using this link or any specific product link to a recommended resource in a message will help our Daily Encouragement ministry through a small commission on the sale. Thank you for considering using these links when purchasing online through Amazon! Tip: If you are a regular Amazon customer consider bookmarking this link and using it whenever you shop on Amazon.

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your parents?  
Here's an idea!  "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents"

Looking for a very special Christmas gift for your children?
Here's an idea!  "The Blessing"

Contact Us
Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne

To receive the "Daily Encouragement" each Monday-Friday through email see this page to subscribe to our email list. You can also subscribe to the Wordpress rss feed or through a Wordpress email subscription. (See the email subscription on the right side after opening this page.)

Make A DonationAre our daily encouragement messages a blessing to you? We ask you to consider making a donation to Daily Encouragement Net so that we can continue to prepare and provide this daily resource which is accessed by believers and seekers all over the world. Daily Encouragement Net relies solely on the generosity and financial support of its readers and podcast listeners. See here for more information on supporting this ministry. Gifts are tax deductible.

Permissions: Please feel free to pass on, reproduce and distribute any material on Daily Encouragement Net, in part or in whole, in any format, provided that you do not alter the wording in any way or charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. It is our desire to spread this material, not protect or restrict it. I do request that you keep the contact, copyright and subscription information intact.

Text only version for printing: To make a text only version for printing (without photos or any of the supplemental materials)
1) Open the basic text editor that comes with all computers (known as wordpad, textpad, etc.) You can also use a program like Word and select paste text only.
2) Select and copy the text from the portion of the message you want to print.
3) Paste into the text pad. (The photos won't show up but you will have a brief text description of the photo which you can delete or just ignore.)
4) Format if you desire (change font, increase or decrease size, etc.)
5) Print!

Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

© Copyright 2014 Stephen C. Weber - All Rights Reserved

Daily Encouragement Net - 495 Kraybill Church Road - Mount Joy, PA 17552  USA

This device counts unique visitors by nation and state. I installed the international version in mid April 2010 and the state version later. They thus register unique visitors to since then.
free counters

Free counters!

"Living securely today anchored in God's solid foundation"