I Heard the Bells

Everybody loves Christmas bells. Except perhaps Colin Buchanan.

I Heard the Bells

Do you hear the bells; they’re ringing? (Peace on earth)
Like the angels singing (Peace on earth)
Open up your heart and hear them! (Peace on earth)
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace is right up there on the International Leaderboard of Christmas Words, just south of Joy, and adjacent to Hope. It is also generally considered a good idea.

Casting Crowns released this song in 2008, but most of the words are from the 1863 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The chronic lack of peace experienced by Longfellow echoes the experience of many today. Everyone wants peace; we just don’t know how to get there. Education? Eliminating poverty? Free U2 albums for everybody?

Using this song during our community carols allows us to point to the only true solution. We’ve used it over many years, and the arrangement below has been rewritten at least twice. Hopefully improved.

This arrangement is fairly close to the Casting Crowns version, except with an additional choir/instrumental chorus. It uses instrumental quotes from the melody of O Little Town of Bethlehem. The intention is to connect peace with the coming of Jesus.

It’s lower than the original, and can be sung by male or female (soprano) vocals. The written solo melody should be treated as more of a guideline than a rule.


Recording by the Orchestra Sibelius.


  • Flutes (Piccolo, 1, 2)
  • Clarinets (1, 2, Bass)
  • Saxophones (Alto 1, Alto 2, Tenor, Bari)
  • French Horn
  • Trumpet (1, 2, 3)
  • Trombone (1, 2)
  • Euphonium
  • Drum Kit
  • Glockenspiel
  • Bass Guitar
  • Piano
  • Vocal Solo
  • Choir (Soprano, Alto)


I Heard the Bells – Full Score

I Heard the Bells – Parts

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