Monday, December 04, 2006

During the Civil War, a seventeen year old boy left home without his father's permission and traveled to join "the sea of blue"--the Union Army. He was the eldest of five motherless children (she had died the year before--a horrific death all too common during that time--her gown caught on fire and she was engulfed in flames.)

He left for the army but could not join until his father gave permission--which he wisely did. The boy, Charles, soon found he had a knack for it. He entered as an enlisted man but quickly earned a commission--no easy feat for a penniless foot soldier. He distinguished himself in battle after battle (missing the Battle of Gettysburg due to Typhoid) until the day he was gravely wounded. A bullet entered his back and nicked his spine. He missed being totally paralyzed by one inch.

His father nursed him back to health, deeply grateful to God for sparing the life of his eldest son. While sitting at his bedside, he wrote what was on his heart:

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!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem captured all the pain and despair of the Civil War, and all the hope of God's unfailing love. Long ago, it spoke to a nation at war, and its beautifully written words still touch millions of hearts today. "The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail" is a promise God made to all of us. No matter what weight we carry on our hearts today, there is great comfort in these words. There is great comfort in knowing "God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!"

Fanny Appleton Longfellow died the same day she was burned, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (burned on the face and hands while trying to save her) mourned her the rest of his life. Longfellow's son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, survived his wounds but was discharged from the army. If you would like to read more about Charley's story, you can find it here:

I praise God that we have a future and a hope--a place where peace will reign:

"There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever." Rev 22:5


Post a Comment

<< Home