Not everyone has a bright, wonderful and Merry Christmas or “Happy Holidays”. Do you know who this man was? May we all find hope and inspiration from this story, poem and song.
The year is 1843. The man is historic. Frances “Fanny” Appleton becomes his wife, and they settle down in the historic Craigie House. Each morning they enjoy the beautiful view of the Charles River in Cambridge Mass. Their first child came in that same year with four more to follow soon thereafter.
In April 1861, Confederate Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard directed his cannons to fire the first shots of the American Civil War.
Two months after the war had begun, Fanny was fatally burned in the library of Craigie House. She had decided to preserve some of her daughter’s hair clippings in wax and the sun through the window lit the wax on her dress. Her husband tried to put the fire out by wrapping her in a rug—then finally wrapping her with his own body, becoming burned himself. Her burns were just too extensive. His own injuries prevented him from attending his wife’s funeral. His trademark beard was from his inability to shave after being burned on his face.
In that same year, his journal read:
“How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.” “I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.”
A year later, his journal entry for December 25th reads:
“A Merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.”
The next year in 1863, his oldest son Charles, a soldier in the Civil War, was badly wounded by a shot that damaged his spine. Though the son would recover, the burden on his father’s life was heavy. Christmas of that year had no entry into his journal but the following year, Christmas of 1864 revealed a man who was finding a new lease on his life.
Time and his faith in God had brought healing and insight. In December of 1864, nearly one year before the Civil War would end, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words as a seven-stanza poem that we now sing: I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY.
Not everyone has a bright, wonderful and Merry Christmas or “Happy Holidays”.
May we all find hope and inspiration from this story, poem and song.
- I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play;
In music sweet the tones repeat,
“There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”
- I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’ unbroken song
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 does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men.”
- When men repent and turn from sin
The Prince of Peace then enters in,
And grace imparts within their hearts
His peace on earth, good will to men.
- O souls amid earth’s busy strife,
The Word of God is light and life;
Oh, hear His voice, make Him your choice,
Hail peace on earth, good will to men.
- Then happy, singing on your way,
Your world will change from night to day;
Your heart will feel the message real,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep.”
To beat the doldrums, we work and trust in Him:
“Each of you (Christian disciples of Jesus) has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well.” I Peter 4:10
“While you are in this world, you will have to suffer. But cheer up! I have defeated the world.”–Jesus John 16:33
When Jesus was born, many angels appeared to shepherds, saying:
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”