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, goodwill to men.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Time to bring the bells out. So many bells. There’re the bells that hang from the wreath on the front door that clang against the door every time you open and close it. The bells on the backs of the chairs in the dining room. The little hand-held jingle bells you can jingle whenever you need a little Christmas spirit. The bells we hang on the Christmas tree. And the sleigh bells you can wear around your wrist. Bells to go.
Why are bells such an important part of Christmas? Sleigh bells — Jingle Bells — are probably the most recognizable sound of Christmas. Put the sound of jingling bells in anything and you immediately think of horses and reindeer, and Santa. Take a regular song and shake sleigh bells all through it and you suddenly have a Christmas song.
The other kinds of Christmas bells are the big bells — the ones in church towers and clock towers. These are the bells spoken of in Longfellow’s poem. They are the ones that peal out loud and deep and echo throughout the town proclaiming: “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.” They refuse to stop their pealing for anything. They ring out hymns and Christmas carols at the end of the day, and when they really get excited, they ring out randomly as fast as you can pull the ropes in the belfry: Clang! Bang! Bong, they go! They are a loud and joyful sound. They ring out hope, and victory, and peace. They are a clear, pure sound when so much else is fuzzy. Think of the big bells in the churches all over Europe at the end of both world wars, at least the ones that could still ring. Can’t you see the children ringing the bells that are so heavy they lift them up off the ground as they clang from side to side, and the children swing and bounce like marionettes on a string? It’s a picture of being carried away by joy. The big bell lifts you off the ground. Try ringing the bell and find out the bell rings you!
If ever we needed the bells of Christmas, it’s now. So much death, fear and uncertainty in our world. So much confusion. So little trust in anyone telling the truth. We are so ready for the clear, unchallengeable ringing of the real Christmas story of a savior come from heaven to earth. Joy to the world the Lord is come, bringing love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, salvation and eternal life! All of it true. All of it real. Ring them bells! Joy to the world!
Ring them bells Sweet Martha,
For the poor man’s son
Ring them bells so the world will know
That God is one.
– Bob Dylan