The 19th century poet Henry Longfellow wrote somber words that declare . . .
Longfellow felt mocked. He experienced great pain. At the age of twenty-four, Longfellow married a home-town girl, Mary Potter. Four years and two months later, Henry was a 28-year-old widower. Mary and the baby she carried died.
Henry later remarried and his wife Frances had six children. But then in 1861, the same year as the beginning of the Civil War, while working with sealing wax to close an envelope containing a keepsake of a lock of a child’s hair, Frances accidentally set her dress aflame. She died the next day of severe burns. Longfellow, himself burned from trying to rescue Frances, missed her funeral. Two years later, he wrote in a journal . . .
In 1863, Henry’s son Charles was severely wounded in the on-going American Civil War. With that history, you can understand why the poet would pen the lament, “There is no peace on earth I said.”
He wrote those words in 1864 in full expression of personal experience with grief. But let us not forget, Longfellow did not lay his pen down after those words. He continued.
I like that Longfellow added the word or sleep. I like it because while most of us would never declare that God is dead, we might wonder if He is asleep or at least too busy.
As I look around and observe, I see not only the lack of peace, I also see so many who reject the One who brings peace. That occurrence is not new. In his Gospel, John tells what happened when the Word became flesh. John testifies how he saw the glory of God but notice what he also recounts. Jesus, the Word, was in the world but the world did not recognize Him or receive Him.
The prophets, teachers, and angels declared that Jesus is the way to peace, and the world will not recognize Him and receive Him. Do you see the problem? We cannot make peace if we are not at peace in our own lives. And we cannot have peace in our own lives if we do not have Jesus, the Prince of Peace.
Jesus, the Prince of Peace, said “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Every day that men and women choose to turn their backs to Jesus is . . .
“The Day Peace Was Rejected.”
Henry Longfellow, the poet who heard the bells more loud and clear, died peacefully surrounded by family. He experienced "Peace on earth good will to men."
For further reading:
Stewart, Tom. “From the Editor’s Desktop - The Story Behind ‘I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day’.” <https://www.whatsaiththescripture.com/Fellowship/Edit_I.Heard.the.Bells.html>.
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