Ring the Bells, Let the Angels Rejoice!

Updated: Jan 26, 2019



The sound of hand bell choirs at Christmas time never fails to captivate me. I even like the sound of the bell the Salvation Army guys ring in front of the department stores. When I was in Switzerland this past summer, the cows were up in the Alps and I could hear the bells they wore ringing throughout the mountains. A bovine wind chime…it was very moooo-ving.

When I moved from a tiny rural town to the campus of Texas A&M University for college, there were a lot of things I had to adjust to. The freshman class alone was three times larger than the town I grew up in. The campus had more stop signs than my hometown. It was a big adjustment for small town me. I think the biggest adjustment was the noise. I had always lived on a farm. Traffic going by at all hours, sirens, people talking was quite a bit different from the sounds of chickens and cows, owls and coyotes. My dorm was also next the train tracks and the Bell Tower. And this is where my love of bells first started.

While I learned to tune out most of the noise, I came to love the sound of the Bell Tower chiming every quarter hour. It was solid and dependable. When I couldn’t find some obscure classroom, when I bombed a test, when I missed home or felt all alone, there was always the Bell Tower. There wasn’t a place on campus where I couldn’t hear it if I was outside. Its presence became a reassurance that whatever my current problem, this wasn’t the end. Time was marching forward.

Would I still be stuck in the same place, or was I marching forward as well?

Only one thing moves us forward in times of discouragement.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NKJV)

In 1864, amidst the Civil War that divided our nation, tore families apart, claimed the lives of fathers and sons, brothers, husbands, and friends, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned the words to a poem that ring as true for us today as they did during that dark and turbulent time in history. In the midst of great tragedy—personal for he had lost his wife in a horrific household accident and his son had been severely wounded in the war—he searched for hope amid the despair.

“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!”

As I look around this Christmas season, I can feel the despairing weight of his words as he contemplated the suffering and heavy shroud of hopelessness all around him. Now too, I see a nation running on the fuel of distrust and division. I see parents grieving the loss of their children. I see marriages being torn apart and families in distress. I see poverty and hunger and cruelty and greed.

But like Longfellow, I look to something beyond this present circumstance. I look for hope. And just like in my days at college, living in the shadow of the Bell Tower, sometimes I find it with my ears and not my eyes.

It is in the rhythmic ringing of the bells, especially at Christmas.

“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.’”

This is our call to action--to ring the bells more loud and deep.

The bells of faith, hope, and love. The bells of mercy and grace. The bells of redemption and forgiveness. The bells of charity and service and compassion. The bells of unity and understanding. Let us not cease their ringing throughout the year. May we be the Bell Tower that beckons others to the faith we have in Jesus Christ.

May we be the hand bell choir that lifts a chorus of hope to the heavens that causes the angels to rejoice and God to smile.

With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Merry 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.”

(Thank you for following me here this year. I’ll be away for the holidays, but I’ll be back in your inbox after the New Year.)Feel free to use my website to contact me anytime.)

#Holidays #Christmas #Switzerland #Faith #Love #Encouragement #LoriAltebaumer #HenryWadsworthLongfellow

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As a Christian writer, speaker, and blogger, I use my love of stories, words, and people to serve Him.

 

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