On earth peace, goodwill toward men.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife had recently died; his soldier son had been severely wounded; and he was grieving over Civil War deaths.
On December 25, 1804, seeking to distance himself from depression, he wrote the words to 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 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.
Inner peace comes from commitment
to the Prince of Peace.