Fanny and Henry had six children and lived comfortably. When President Lincoln was elected, Longfellow and his wife were elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln which he thought would bring peace and freedom to the nation.
The following year, Civil War began. On July 9, 1861, in the early days of the war, Fanny was sealing locks of her daughter's hair using hot wax. Henry was asleep in the next room. Suddenly, he awoke to Fanny's screams. He rushed into the room to find Fanny engulfed in flames. Longfellow covered the flames with a rug that was too small, burning his own hands and face. Fannie died about 12 hours later. Henry was too badly injured to attend her funeral.
His face so badly burned that he could no longer shave. His heavy white beard becoming a trademark of his persona.
His diaries tell the story of his life:
Christmas Day, 1861: "How inexpressibly sad are the holidays"
Christmas Day, 1862: A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me"
in 1863 his son ran away to join the Union Army. He returned in December badly injured. There is no journal entry for 1863.
But on Christmas Day, 1864, Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began a poem...
I heard the bells on Christmas Day, their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet, the words repeat, of peace on earth, good will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he reflected on his world. War. Gettysburg. His son. So many young men had died....
And in despair I bowed my head
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
But until Jesus comes again and enforces His rule, peace is something that comes to us one heart at a time.
Longfellow continued his poem...
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."
Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.
In invite you today to discover Peace with God, and to believe that the sufferings of Jesus on the Cross were necessary to settle your estrangement from God. Believe in Him today and discover his peace!
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