It’s almost Christmas, making it the perfect time for a musical holiday flashback with Johnny Cash and June Carter. In 1977, Cash and Carter gave a timeless performance of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on Billy Graham’s TV special that still rings true nearly four decades later.
The holiday classic is based on the 1863 poem “Christmas Bells” by poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The song version is even more poignant when covered by the country music couple, particularly with Cash’s strong storytelling voice.
Longfellow wrote the poem after his eldest son signed up to fight in the Civil War without asking for his father’s blessing, not long after Wadsworth’s wife Frances died. While the poem channels his despair, the ending sums up his hope for the future:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep/The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail/With peace on earth, good-will to men.”