Christmas is a season of magic. Open your heart to it and the world becomes a place more beautiful and full of hope. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s inspiration for “Christmas Bells” is such a story.
After years of despair brought on by the loss of his wife and the wounding of his son in the Civil War, Longfellow felt he would never feel the joy of the holiday season again. Yet, on Christmas Day 1864, the sound of church bells ringing in lofty spires stirred something warm in his soul. He sat down and wrote the ode of promise and hope upon which the Christmas carol “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based.
Perhaps, as Christensen’s “Christmas Bells” alludes, there was a touch of divine intervention that wintery day. When those bells “pealed more loud and deep” than they had before, piercing Longfellow’s despair, an inspirational message to all mankind was delivered.