December 1, 2015

Christmas Bells

This was such a lovely novel.

The book starts out in the present day during a children's choir rehearsal. Every other chapter shares the stories of those involved, the choir director, the pianist, the priest, a nun, children from the choir as well as their parents and the wife of a wealthy politician who has recently passed away.

At first I didn't see where the story was going, but as I read on the author intertwined theirs stories beautifully.

Every other chapter is the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his family. It shares many details of the time, which takes place during the Civil War. I loved reading these chapters. They are also set during Christmas and really put me in the Christmas mood. Not necessarily a holiday mood, but a mood of thankfulness for my Savior and the peace He gives us so freely.

Here is a sample:

December 1860

"On Christmas morning as the Longfellow family walked home from church, bells pealed gloriously overhead until all of Cambridge resounded in exultant euphony. Harness bells chimed in, light and cheerful, as horse-drawn sleighs glided swiftly down Brattle Street, their laughing passengers bundled warmly in blankets against the nip in the air. The sky was a flawless azure redolent of Iberian seas with nary a cloud, the sun shone with golden morning light, and a soft, downy blanket of snow covered the earth. 

Everywhere friends and neighbors called out greetings, and even strangers wished one another a Merry Christmas and courteously made room to pass on the sidewalks. With the promise of a Yule log burning on the hearth at home, a sumptuous feast to come, a good bottle of wine at the table, and friends gathered round to share it. Henry could almost believe that the tidings of the holy day could turn even the angriest hearts to reconciliation."

Longfellow had some extremely hard times in his life and one Christmas day he reflected on the war raging all around, where is the peace on earth? Some of us may be wondering that today, but what Longfellow knew, and answered his own question with, was a greater peace that is not of this world. A peace that surpasses our understanding, a peace that comes from the God who sent His Son that first Christmas morning.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians  4:7

Here's a video of the story of Longfellow and the poem he wrote, which we still sing today at Christmas.

                         Christmas Bells by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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."

Buy it HERE on Amazon


  1. What an absolute treat! I'm so happy I'm your next door neighbor at #tellhisstory! The book sounds wonderful, there's nothing like a good old fashioned feeling of Christmas, and Longfellow reminds us during this season of strife in the world, that God is near, will prevail, and that Christmas reigns with the love of Christ! Beautiful post!!

  2. I only just recently learned about this book, and it definitely looks like one I would like to read based on your review. I did not know the story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the hymn I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day until just a few weeks ago.

    The excerpt you shared really draws me in to want to read the rest of the book.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Aw. I would love to read it myself.
    Thank you!

  4. I'm stopping over from Thought Provoking Thursday. This sounds like a wonderful book. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. a lovely read - thanks for sharing! next to you at kristintaylor!

  6. Look at that, we both wrote about the same hymn today! Love that :)

  7. Is there anything better than a lovely novel with a Christmas setting? Thanks for sharing this one!

  8. I always love learning about the stories behind the hymns! I didn't know those war verses before, which means the hymn I have sung all these years has been shortened. Thanks so much for sharing and thanks for linking on Amanda's Books and More! My weekend linky is live and I hope you can link up!

  9. Best 5 minutes of the weekend. I'm a bit under the weather and decided to look at Spiritual Sunday's posts...something I try to do on a limited basis. But today I read about Wadsworth and the history of " I head the bells". , one of my favorite songs. I listened to the words and looked at the world in a different way. Peace on Earth to you too.

  10. It sounds like a beautiful read!
    Blessings and smiles,

  11. Happy you all enjoyed this post! Longfellow's story is very encouraging. Through life's hard times he kept his faith and encouraged us through his poem to do the same.

    Thank you all for stopping by and commenting! : )

  12. Sounds like a great book! Love when authors can twist two stories to make one great one.



  13. This book sounds so good! I already love this song, so to enjoy a book about it would be lovely! Thanks so much for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week and for linking it to my collection of clean Christmas reads for adults at Mommynificent!


Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )