Peace on Earth

I am a recovering Catholic. I was raised on a steady diet of Hail Marys and Our Fathers, delivered with my little white Rosary, kneeling reverently in the ordered contemporary pews of our Villa Madonna chapel. To this day. I whisper a Hail Mary if an ambulance passes within earshot.

I say that I am recovering because my faith is a glimmer of what it once was as a child. Back then, I believed that through Christ all things were possible. But doubt settled in when I was moved from the loving hands of the Salesian nuns to the hell fire and brimstone of a local school with legalistic Baptist views. My parents were simply trying to blend a family and simplify things. Ohhhhh, the irony. As abstract thought and discernment took root in my pre-teen mind, the myopic fundamentalism preached in that school effectively destroyed my love for my Christianity. I have struggled ever since. I have a scientist’s reason. I understand the physical dynamics of the universe and from that I have come to a place that gives me some peace.

Despite all of that doubt, there is a single experience that returns me instantly to the time when I believed that the Christmas message touched everyone’s heart, regardless of the name of their faith. Standing in the middle of Sacred Heart Church in downtown Tampa during a midnight mass will bring even the most heart-hardened, staunchly doubting mind to the brink of believing. It is then, while wrenching every note of O Holy Night from my throat, that I get a glimmer of what it feels like to be united by one ideal.

Last year, for the first time, I heard Casting Crown’s live performance of “I heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Such a beautiful message on a day when the whole world looks to the sky for a Christmas miracle. It is based on a poem written by Longfellow after his son was severely wounded in the Civil War. Longfellow was adamantly against the war and was deeply saddened that his son insisted on enlisting. At that time, Christmas wasn’t yet a national holiday, but as he listened to the churches ring their bells loud and clear, he penned these beautiful words.

Even if you have no religion, peace is in you. It’s in every one of us. Maybe if we just sing it out, the whole world, including those who’ve lost sight of it, will find their way. So, on this Christmas Eve, I wish each and every one of you peace. Take a moment and pay it forward. With one voice, one harmony, we can reach every corner of our world with this simple message.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

And the bells are ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing
(Peace on earth)

In my heart I hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill 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, goodwill to men

But the bells are ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir singing
(Peace on earth)

Does anybody hear them?
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
(Peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, goodwill to men

And the bells, they’re ringing
(Peace on earth)
Like a choir they’re singing
(Peace on earth)

And with our hearts we’ll hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Do you hear the bells, they’re ringing?
(Peace on earth)
The life the angels singing
(Peace on earth)

Open up your heart and hear them
(Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Peace on earth, peace on earth
Peace on earth, goodwill to men

 

View live performance here: http://youtu.be/M7670CXvPX0

Writer(s): Brady ThorntonEllis Jr, Johnny R. Cash, Bernie Herms, Bill Wolaver, Carol Tornquist
Copyright: Chappell & Co. Inc., Non-stop Outrageous Publishing LLC, Word Music LLC, Banahama Tunes, Vivian Distin, John Carter Cash Music Inc.

 

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