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Poetry and Music for Christmas

Ring out, O bells, in joyful chime!
        Again we hail the Christmas time;
    In melting, mellow atmosphere,
        The crown and glory of the year.

    When bitterness, distrust, and awe
        Dissolve, like ice in winter's thaw,
    Beneath the genial touches of
        Amenity, good will, and love.

    When flowers of affection grow,
        Like edelweiss mid alpine snow,
    In lives severe and beautiless,
        Unused to warmth or tenderness.

    Let goodness, grace, and gratitude
        Revive in music's interlude,
    And pæan notes, till time shall cease,
        Proclaim the blessed reign of peace.

    Ring, Christmas bells! for at the sound
        Sweet memories of Him abound
    Who laid aside a diadem
        To be the babe of Bethlehem.

“Christmas Bells” by Hattie Howard. Very little is known about this prolific writer who lived in the late 1800s. Author of at least six volumes containing over 80 poems and stories, her work has been described as “entirely natural, spontaneous, direct, rhythmical, and free from ambitious pretense” that exhibits “a sunny, hopeful spirit.”1

 

“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” written by Phillips Brooks and performed by Nat King Cole. Born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1919, Nathaniel Adams Cole was an American singer and jazz pianist. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was the church organist. She taught him how to play and he performed for the first time at age four. At age 12, he began formal lessons and learned jazz, gospel, and western classical music. He was a driving force in popular music for three decades and was one of the first African Americans to host a national variety show, The Nat King Cole Show. He died in 1965 from lung cancer and his music has remained popular long after his death.2

 

Notes:
1. More about Hattie Howard can be found here.
2. More of Nat King Cole’s biography can be found here.

 

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor at SpectrumMagazine.org.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Earwicker / FreeImages.com

 

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