Saturday, December 18, 2010

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.

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.

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 Wordsworth Longfellow, 1864

*Usually sung to a tune written by Jean Baptiste Calkin
*This poem was written during the Civil War. Two stanzas further reflecting the sense of despair over the war are not usually included anymore in the hymn and are not included here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moonless darkness stands between

Moonless darkness stands between.
Past, the Past, no more be seen!
But the Bethlehem-star may lead me
To the sight of Him Who freed me
From the self that I have been.
Make me pure, Lord: Thou art holy;
Make me meek, Lord: Thou wert lowly;
Now beginning, and alway:
Now begin, on Christmas day.
---Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins Icon

I've long been an admirer of Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry. I wrote the thesis for my FIRST master's degree on his work. Father William Hart McNichols has created an "icon" of him in Eastern Orthodox style, although both were Roman Catholic priests.