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There's A Song in the Air

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

 Year 1864 was a leap year starting on Friday.

 February 1 -- Danish-Prussian War 57,000 Austrian and Prussian troops cross the Eider River into Denmark.

 February 17 -- American Civil War: The tiny Confederate submarine Hunley torpedoes the USS Housatonic, becoming the first submarine to sink an enemy ship (the sub and her crew of 8 are also lost).

 February 25 -- American Civil War: The first Northern prisoners arrive at the Confederate prison at Andersonville, Georgia (the 500 prisoners had left Richmond, Virginia seven days before).

 March 9 -- American Civil War: Abraham Lincoln appoints Ulysses S. Grant commander in chief of all Union armies. 36 major battles and Campaigns ensue

 May 21 -- The Russian Empire Commits the Circassian Genocide more than 1.5 Million Circassians Murdered and the Circassians who survived were forced to leave there homeland to the Ottoman Empire, ending the Russian-Circassian War.

 June 15 -- Arlington National Cemetery is established when 200 acres (0.81 km2) of the grounds of Robert E. Lee's home Arlington House are officially set-aside as a military cemetery by U.S. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.

 August 22 -- First Geneva Convention: The International Red Cross is founded.

 October 5 -- A cyclone kills 70,000 in Calcutta, India.

 November 8 -- U.S. presidential election, 1864: Abraham Lincoln is reelected in an overwhelming victory over George B. McClellan.

 December 15 -- December 16 -- American Civil War last Battle of 1864 -- Battle of Nashville: Union forces decisively defeat the Confederate Army of Tennessee.

 December 25 -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), composed the words to "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day."

The carol was originally a poem, "Christmas Bells," containing seven stanzas. When Longfellow penned the words to his poem, America was still months away from Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9th 1865; and, his poem reflected the prior years of the war's despair, while ending with a confident hope of triumphant peace.

The poem gave birth to the carol, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day." Two stanzas which contained references to the American Civil War were omitted. The remaining five stanzas were slightly rearranged in 1872 by John Baptiste Calkin (1827-1905), who also gave us the memorable tune.

"I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day," became the promise of hope in a tumultuous year.

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.

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."

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."


 January 11 -- Flooding and mudslides in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro kills 903.

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