Good Version of “I Heard the Bells Ringing on Christmas Day”

I know 12th Night means that Christmas is over, but I can’t wait until next year to tell you about a version of Longfellow’s carol on YouTube. You who have read my review of the film about the writing of this glorious carol I Heard the Bells and saw the film will especially enjoy this condensed version of the story, wonderfully illustrated at

YouTube also has a powerful version illustrated by Civil War photographs that contribute to the power of the poet’s word protesting the violence that mocks the angels’ message “Peace on Earth, Good Will..: See it at

There are other versions using different tunes that are also worth watching/hearing. I love the 18-minute video produced by Willow Church.  The story of Longfellow is acted out without dialogue by a talented actor who effectively expresses the grief the poet felt over the loss of his beloved wife and the wounding of his son who had run away to join the army. It has the poet attending church after writing his poem but ending with the despairing stanza. The pastor eloquently speaks of Christmas and the war that seems to be mocking the angels song of peace and goodwill. Longfellow rises from his pew and goes to the vestibule, where he continues to listen to the srmon. Then he climbs up the ladder into the belfry and touches the big bell. He rushes home and picking up the poem that he had tossed onto the floor, writes that faith-filled last stanza. The silent drama is intercut by a singer singing a lovely song of peace, and ending with several singers on stage in front of a white church singing the last stanza of the carol. It’s available at


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