Words: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905)


This carol was written on December 25, 1863, when the American Civil War (1861-1865) was at its height. The famous poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was saddened by the horrors of this conflict, for "hate seemed overstrong at the moment." His son, who was serving as lieutenant in the Union Army at the time, had been wounded. When Longfellow heard the Christmas bells chiming out, he came to the realization, from the depths of his despair, that "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!" He believed that God is powerful enough to overcome the world's strife, and to bring peace and good will to Earth. And in ending each stanza, the poet stresses this idea with the phrase, "Of peace on Earth, good will to men."