there was ringing, the ringing of the bells, meting out their message, assuring us all was well. Time to gather, time to sing, praises to God, our Savior and King.
there was singing, singing in the stands, before the contest of the teams – there was cheering, much cheering from all the assembled fans
there was laughter, there was laughter all around – as children chased and climbed and swung – the footfalls of their feet echoing on sacred ground
there was dancing, much dancing of every kind – in every place, so free and flowing – so slow and steady, the beat keeps growing, till dancing with a graceful precision – creates in that space a beautiful vision
there was weeping, much weeping when loved ones lost were laid to rest, there was comfort, much comfort in the gathering, the presence of those who loved them best
there was music, so much music – the world could not contain, all the symphonies and children’s choirs, singing a glad refrain, churches filled with familiar hymns sung – while outdoor concerts thrilled old and young
there was joy, there was celebration at many myriad events – weddings, graduations, birthdays, such special times were spent
together, sharing life’s journey, we did not walk our path alone – created for community, in each one God’s image shown
in solitary silence, I wait for freedom’s bells to ring, hoping once again to hear the voices of the people sing
no bullets brought this end to freedom’s ring – it simply became unlawful for anyone to sing – the praises of our country, the praises of our God, no voices heard from shore to shore, where pilgrims’ feet once trod.
dictators deliver their edicts, kings issue their decrees – our democracy had neither, to God we took a knee
we had laws, God’s laws were our own, no more were we subjects to a king on a throne
a dream of freedom was conceived, a nation of freedom was born – to this end they pledged their very lives as their allegiances were sworn
would they wonder why freedom’s ring is silent in our land today? would they listen for the bells calling out, compelling us each day? to take heart, be brave – we will not again be enslaved.
the battle rages all around, now is the time to stand our ground
Truth, was the first to fall, she is the most formidable foe of all – but with Truth gone, fear fills her place, and Freedom falls without a trace, without a sound, without a cry, with no one left to wonder why
why the bells no longer ring, why of our country we can no longer sing – or celebrate or commemorate those who died to make her great – is the hour now too late?
no history to remind of what has gone before, we soon forget the price those paid who once guarded Freedom’s door. No dissent and no lament, one cannot mourn what one does not know, what one never knew nor can’t recall – our history erased, Freedom free to fall – and fall she will on ears grown deaf and hearts grown hard and eyes grown too blind to see Truth
Truth, no longer able to come to her aide – Truth long since banished from every portal where previously she poured forth in generations past, from every pulpit, every courtroom, every classroom, every town square, every home – Truth makes Freedom’s existence possible- without Truth, Freedom dies – freedom of speech, freedom to pursue dreams, – no limits placed by birth bequeathed status or lack thereof
oh to hear the bells! bells ringing, ringing out fear, ringing in freedom – one of my favorite hymns is based on the poem “Christmas Bells” written on Christmas day 1863 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It begins with these words,
“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!”
His poem then becomes a lament of sorts as the Civil War was raging at the time he wrote these words and his son Charles was serving with the Union Army, having gone against his father’s wishes to enlist. The poem continues and as it nears the end we read,
“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!’ ”
But then we come to the final words of the poem,
“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.’ ”
The ballad of the bells is peace, freedom for the oppressed, (which was why the Civil War was taking place) and hope, hope that good will always win out over evil. And when there were people like Longfellow’s son, that was a sure hope. This is what his son, Charles, wrote to him in a letter after he left to join the Union army in March 1863, without his father’s knowledge or permission,
“I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer. I feel it to be my first duty to do what I can for my country and I would willingly lay down my life for it if it would be of any good.”
Reminiscent of the patriots of 1776, isn’t it? Imagine it – he was not worried about losing his popularity, his position or his power, not worried about losing his job or even about losing his very life – he apparently loved his country, messed up as she was in 1863, enough to die for her. That is the definition of a patriot.
Currently, we may feel our country to be very messed up. I confess – it is easy to find her faults and her failures. Is that why no one is willing to risk the sacrifice of being defriended or deplatformed, let alone losing a job or personal popularity or power, simply by standing up for her? Do we now value personal comfort over freedom? It seems we are willing to sacrifice, we are now willing to sacrifice freedom for our own comfort instead of sacrificing our own comfort for freedom, for the freedom of others, for the freedom of the many, for the freedom of those who will come after us. (our founding fathers secured freedom not just for themselves but for the generations to come) No wonder the bells are silent.
still, I will hope, I will keep on listening for the bells – let freedom ring!
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)
sincerely, Grace Day