Friday, December 23, 2016

Beauty from sadness

This is one of my favorite (but not-that-commonly-heard) Christmas hymns. It's based on a poem by Longfellow, who knew sadness - at the point when he wrote this poem, he was a widower (his wife's dress tragically caught fire) and his son had been gravely injured in the Civil War.

In fact, he wrote the poem while sitting at his son's bedside in the hospital.

The tune used here is the one familiar to me. There are other tunes including a couple of moderned-up ones that I admit I don't like.

The verses that always gets me are these:

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."

How often in the past few years - actually, past NOT SO FEW years, I remember first thinking of it in 2001 - about the whole idea that  peace and goodwill are things that are mocked, whether in a warlike way (people who would kill others to make a political point) or in an "I'm better than you" way - all the snark about everything good, which just makes me so tired.

But the good is still there. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. And I have to hang on to that idea, it is one of the things that keeps me going, that keeps me going out into the world and doing whatever it is that needs to be done in the coming day, even when I'm not "feeling it," even when I'm tired, even when I'm bowed down from hearing too much ugliness.

No comments: