Our American Holidays - Christmas/Christmas Bells (Anonymous)
There are sounds in the sky when the year grows old,
And the winds of the winter blow —
When night and the moon are clear and cold,
And the stars shine on the snow,
Or wild is the blast and the bitter sleet
That beats on the window-pane;
But blest on the frosty hills are the feet
Of the Christmas time again!
Chiming sweet when the night wind swells,
Blest is the sound of the Christmas Bells!
Dear are the sounds of the Christmas chimes
In the land of the ivied towers,
And they welcome the dearest of festival times
In this Western world of ours!
Bright on the holly and mistletoe bough
The English firelight falls,
And bright are the wreathed evergreens now
That gladden our own home walls!
And hark! the first sweet note that tells,
The welcome of the Christmas Bells!
The owl that sits in the ivy's shade,
Remote from the ruined tower,
Shall start from his drowsy watch afraid
When the clock shall strike the hour;
And over the fields in their frosty rhyme
The cheery sounds shall go,
And chime shall answer unto chime
Across the moonlit snow!
How sweet the lingering music dwells, —
The music of the Christmas Bells.
It fell not thus in the East afar
Where the Babe in the manger lay;
The wise men followed their guiding star
To the dawn of a milder day;
And the fig and the sycamore gathered green,
And the palm-tree of Deborah rose;
'T was the strange first Christmas the world had seen —
And it came not in storm and snows.
Not yet on Nazareth's hills and dells
Had floated the sound of Christmas Bells.
The cedars of Lebanon shook in the blast
Of their own cold mountain air;
But nought o'er the wintry plain had passed
To tell that the Lord was there!
The oak and the olive and almond were still,
In the night now worn and thin;
No wind of the winter-time roared from the hill
To waken the guests at the inn;
No dream to them the music tells
That is to come from the Christmas Bells!
The years that have fled like the leaves on the gate
Since the morn of the Miracle-Birth,
Have widened the fame of the marvellous tale
Till the tidings have filled the earth!
And so in the climes of the icy North,
And the lands of the cane and the palm,
By the Alpine cotter's blazing hearth,
And in tropic belts of calm,
Men list to-night the welcome swells,
Sweet and clear, of Christmas Bells!
They are ringing to-night through the Norway firs,
And across the Swedish fells,
And the Cuban palm-tree dreamily stirs
To the sound of those Christmas Bells!
They ring where the Indian Ganges rolls
Its flood through the rice-fields wide;
They swell the far hymns of the Lapps and Poles
To the praise of the Crucified.
Sweeter than tones of the ocean's shells
Mingle the chimes of the Christmas Bells!
The years come not back that have circled away
With the past of the Eastern land,
When He plucked the corn on the Sabbath day
And healed the withered hand;
But the bells shall join in a joyous chime
For the One who walked the sea,
And ring again for the better time
Of the Christ that is to be!
Then ring! — for earth's best promise dwells
In ye, O joyous Prophet Bells!
Ring out at the meeting of night and morn
For the dawn of a happier day!
Lo, the stone from our faith's great sepulchre torn
The angels have rolled away!
And they come to us here in our low abode,
With words like the sunrise gleam, —
Come down and ascend by that heavenly road
That Jacob saw in his dream.
Spirit of love, that in music dwells,
Open our hearts with the Christmas Bells!
Help us to see that the glad heart prays
As well as the bended knees;
That there are in our own as in ancient days
The Scribes and the Pharisees;
That the Mount of Transfiguration still
Looks down on these Christian lands,
And the glorified ones from that holy hill
Are reaching their helping hands.
These be the words our music tells
Of solemn joy, O Christmas Bells!