‘Christmas Bells’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of the Class of 1825

One of the best known American poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, of the Class of 1825, contributed to the wealth of carols sung each holiday season when he wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on December 25, 1864.

The carol was originally a poem with seven stanzas. Two stanzas containing references to the American Civil War were omitted, giving us the carol we know in its present form. Read the original seven-stanza composition.



  1. Merry Christmas!
    Thank You for thinking about our illustrious poet,”Longfellow”.
    Look for information in January about Longfellow Days, a month long celebration of Maine poets’ and of course Henry, with lectures,special events and poetry reads throughout the month of February. Angus King will introduce the Poet Laureates of Maine to kick off our celebration on Saturday,February 1st.

  2. Chet Freeman says:

    Here’s some background info (trigger warning to students easily offended by talk of soldiers and war) left out of this article (from the wiki): “During the American Civil War, Longfellow’s oldest son, Charles Appleton Longfellow, joined the Union cause as a soldier without his father’s blessing. Longfellow was informed by a letter dated March 14, 1863, after Charles had left. “I have tried hard to resist the temptation of going without your leave but I cannot any longer”, he wrote. “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”. Charles soon got an appointment as a lieutenant but, in November, he was severely wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church (in Virginia), during the Mine Run Campaign. Coupled with the recent loss of his wife Frances, who’d died as a result of an accidental fire, Longfellow was inspired to write “Christmas Bells”.”

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