American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow had recently lost his wife to a fire and his son’s health to injury on the battlefield during the Civil War.

In his grief, he heard the bells ringing on Christmas day and wrote this poem – and brought hope to its readers.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs 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 rang 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

Then 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

Composed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas Day 1863