“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is easily one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time. Interestingly, this beautiful hymn has a tragic story behind it. The hymn was written by Henry Wadsworth. Wadsworth experienced his country and family being torn apart during the civil war, an experience that silenced him. As we close in on Christmas, we tell you about a new film that shares the true story behind “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”
The New Film Telling the Story of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”
Sight & Sound Theater is a production company that brings to life popular stories from the Bible to the grand stage. The company’s latest story is not set in the theater or drawn from the pages of the Bible. Sight & Sound moved to release its first movie that hit the theaters in early December. This movie is called “I Heard the Bells” and it reveals the true story behind a very popular Christmas carol. The movie tells us about the author of this carol, his experiences, and what gave rise to this beautiful hymn.
The director and writer of “I Heard the Bells,” Josh Enck, spoke about the story and how it became the company’s first movie. Josh said, “What it comes down to is this: Sight & Sound Films wants to tell stories of figures and events from history that changed the world because Christ first changed them, and we wanted to do a Christmas story.”
He continued, “We discovered this beautiful story that came out of one of the nation’s darkest time periods, which was the Civil War, and it’s a poem, and it’s really a diary entry about the protagonist, Henry Longfellow, and his whole journey of faith. And we thought there are a lot of people who can relate to this man who had it all, lost it all, and had it come back again and be redeemed through, in this case, the symbol of a bell ringing out more loud and deep: God is not dead, nor does he sleep.”
Hearing from Actors in the Movie
Some of the actors in the movie discussed how well they knew Henry Wadsworth and the story behind this carol. One of them, Stephen Atherhold, who plays the lead in “I Heard the Bells” said, “I knew of him. I knew that he wrote The Children’s Hour and I Heard The Bells. But that’s really it. Getting the opportunity to play him was an amazing chance to dive into who he was and to really fall in love with his character.”
Stephen went on to describe how he loved Longfellow’s hope struggle. “I think as an actor, the ability to struggle is what everyone relates to. We all have trials in this life. When you are not willing to give in. When you say, ‘I know there is hope on the other side,’ even though Henry couldn’t see it. We all long for that. And to be able to find that hope with him as a character was a beautiful journey,” he said.
Another actor on the set is Rachael Day Hughes. She plays the role of Longfellow’s wife, Fanny. This is what she had to say, “The final words of the song are peace on earth, goodwill to men. And those words are not original to Henry. They are original to scripture. And they are the reason we celebrate Christmas, because Christ really did come to give us peace on earth. So if there is anybody out there that is walking through a story of grief this Christmas, it is my hope that this film inspires you as you watch Henry’s journey to reclaim the truth of those words over his life, that it inspires you to do the same.”
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