It’s officially Christmastime, which means holiday music is everywhere.
Over the weekend, the Doxology Vocal Ensemble from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, released an a cappella cover of the beloved Christmas carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
Matthew Hall, provost of SBTS, called the performance “fantastic” and said he is “grateful for how God is using them,” referring to the 16 members of the a cappella Doxology Vocal Ensemble. The group represents six countries, with singers from Austria, Ukraine, Uganda, Honduras, South Korea, and the United States.
Origin of the song
The holiday song is based off the poem “Christmas Bells,” written in 1863 by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Longfellow’s poem chronicles his despair upon hearing Christmas bells in the heat of the American Civil War. The poet heard the lingering sound of bells, a reminder of the “peace on earth” promised in Luke 2:14, and was heartbroken by the lack of peace in the world around him.
So he wrote, “hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.” The poem, though, ends on a hopeful note. Ultimately, Wadsworth wrote, “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.’”