I Heard the Bells On Christmas Day

Instrumentation/Voicing: 
SATB, handbells or piano 4 hands

This is a new setting of the familiar Longfellow poem, written as an entry for the 2010 VocalEssence Welcome, Christmas! carol contest. The words seemed so much stronger than the music I had most often heard them sung to, and (as the competition that year was for voices and handbells) they seemed especially apt for a new treatment. The handbells are swung to imitate a townful of church bells ringing in a bright new year.

Perusal Score: 
Audio: 

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Order Sheet Music
Catalog Number: 
FAM-0068-01A (handbells)
Catalog Number: 
FAM-0068-01B (piano 4 hands)
Duration: 
2:45
Text
Text Author or Source: 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (adapt.)
Language: 
English
Text: 

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.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th'unbroken song
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.'

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.