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Lyr Req: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

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I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Longer version of I Heard The Bells? (3)
(origins) Lyr Add: +article I Heard The Bells On Christ (9)


GUEST,Genie 18 Sep 01 - 02:00 AM
Joe Offer 18 Sep 01 - 03:11 AM
Joe Offer 18 Sep 01 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Genie 18 Sep 01 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,David Brannan 24 Nov 03 - 09:47 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 03 - 11:08 PM
masato sakurai 24 Nov 03 - 11:37 PM
Genie 19 Dec 07 - 12:54 AM
Genie 12 Dec 09 - 06:49 PM
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Subject: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 02:00 AM

I am looking for the other two verses to Longfellow's "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day," the ones that are not usually printed in hymnals and Christmas songbooks, because they pertain to the events of the American Civil War which inspired the poem.

One verse begins something like this:

"Then, as from some foul dragon's mouth, the cannon thundered from the South ... ."

Please do not post the 'regular' verses here. I posted them under the thread called "Know Any Hard-Hitting Christmas Songs?" (But I don't know how to do clickies yet.)

Genie


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Subject: ADD: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:11 AM

Well, here's the song:

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

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 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.

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."

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.

Words attributed to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863
Music by Henry Bishop



....and here's the poem, "Christmas Bells," 1863 (from www.everypoet.com)


CHRISTMAS BELLS
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1863)

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!"


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Subject: Info: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 03:23 AM

Hello again, Genie. I thought you might find this interesting.
Also see Who Really Wrote "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" from Harvard Magazine, 1991. The article says that although Longfellow wrote the poem, an unknown person dropped verses and added a last verse, and put the tune to music in 1872. -Joe Offer-


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

        In spite of the mentions of bells and Christmas in the title, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is as much an antiwar song as it is a pro-Christmas song. The poetry of this renowned carol was crafted by the great American literary figure, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), in the midst of the American Civil War. On Christmas Day in 1863, Longfellow wrote the familiar lines in response to the horror of the bloody fratricidal conflict in general and to the personal tragedy of his son, Lieutenant Charles Appleton Longfellow, who was severely wounded in November 1862.
        This was not the only pacifist poetry composed by Longfellow. His peace sentiments found their way into many poems, including the famous "Song of Hiawatha" (1855) and "Courtship of Miles Standish" (1858). Although his reputation rests primarily on his considerable skill as a popular poet, which also resulted in the well-known works "The Village Blacksmith," (1841), "The Wreck of the Hesperus" (1841), "Evangeline" (1847), and "Paul Revere's Ride" (1863), his deep-rooted pacifism, as well as his concern with social issues such as slavery, should not be overlooked in the understanding of the man.
        It was not until sometime after 1872 that the 1863 poem, which was originally titled "Christmas Bells," was converted into a carol. Some unknown person in some unknown year recognized that Longfellow's stirring and optimistic interpretation of the bells of Christmas would make a magnificent mate for an 1872 processional which was strongly reminiscent of the ringing of bells. The composer of the appropriate tune, John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905), was the most famous of a family of accomplished English musicians. At first Calkin `s melody was published with the 1848 American hymn, "Fling Out the Banner! Let It Float" by George Washington Doane (1799-1859). Ironically, "Fling Out" was an old-fashioned militant missionary hymn which contrasted greatly in purpose and spirit from the more permanent partner of Calkin's music, "I Heard the Bells."
        Although Calkin's melody is a beautiful, gentle, and lofty rendition of the sounds of Christmas bells and is quite well received during the holidays, at least three alternative tunes have been tried. These are the moderately popular wafting melody by Johnny Marks (1909-1985), who is most noted for "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," plus tunes by John Bishop (ca. 1665-1737) and Alfred Herbert Brewer (1865-1928). Calkin's melody, however, remains predominant over the others.
        As a pair, the resonant tones of Calkin's pensive music, the main component of his reputation, and the minor but excellent poem by Longfellow, comprise a very satisfying carol. On top of its fine artistry, it offers an undeniable moral whose essence resides in the two phrases with which each stanza ends. "Peace on earth, goodwill to men" so appropriately covers both halves of the partly Christmas and partly pacifist carol. No matter how long this particular song may endure, may its two highly desirable themes harmoniously blend together in an everlasting symbiosis for the benefit of humanity.

from The Christmas Carol Reader, William Studwell, 1995.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 18 Sep 01 - 04:29 AM

Thanks for posting the full Longfellow lyrics and the article on the carol's history, Joe.
One minor correction, though. The "unknown person" did not write a new last verse; he/she took Longfellow's third verse and put it at the end of the poem.

I had often wondered why that verse sometimes showed up at the end and sometimes in the middle of the song.

Personally, I would still give Longfellow credit for writing the carol, since the other person merely changed a word or two, deleted a verse (don't we all do this to songs from time to time?) and changed the order of verses.

Longfellow's poem may be dated in the specifics of verse four, but the rest of the poem, including, especially, verse five, is, sadly, very currant.--All it would take would be a few minor word substitutions in verse four and the whole thing would be most apt for this Christmas season.

Joe, can you make a link between this thread and Ian B's "Hard hitting Christmas Songs?" thread?

Genie


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Subject: Tune Add: 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'
From: GUEST,David Brannan
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 09:47 PM

I like the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which are taken from a Longfellow poem, "Christmas Bells" -- but the tune makes it sound like a college fight song! One tune that I think would be more fitting is "Conditor Alme Siderum," a.k.a. "Creator of the Stars of Night."


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 11:08 PM

"Christmas Bells," by Longfellow, was set to music by George L. Osgood in 1882. The rather dark poem was written by Longfellow when his son was badly injured in the Civil War. Sheet music is at American Memory.
In the carol the last two verses which speak of the battle are omitted.

Music was also written by John B. Calkin in 1872 (midi at Cyberhymnal). The words were also set to an older tune by Joseph Mainzer. The title here is "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," which is the usual one given nowadays.

Check the sheet music by Osgood at American Memory and see what you think of it.


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Subject: RE: Tune Add: 'I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day'
From: masato sakurai
Date: 24 Nov 03 - 11:37 PM

In A Treasury of Hymns, edited by Maria Leiper & Henry W. Simon (Cornerstone Library, 1953, p. 65), "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" is set to ILLSLEY (click here for the tune).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: Genie
Date: 19 Dec 07 - 12:54 AM

Actually, I should have said the song is "current." "Currants" are for fruitcakes.

: )


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
From: Genie
Date: 12 Dec 09 - 06:49 PM

Joe,
I just noticed that in the DT, John Baptiste Calkin is not credited for the tune to "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day." It credits the song to Longfellow but does not note that this is an adaptation of Longfellow's poem "The Christmas Bells."
(The adaptation was to drop two verses and rearrange the order of the others.)


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