“Let there be Peace on Earth”
by Jill Jackson
A history of Christian hymns
Our troubled world longs for peace. We are bombarded with reports of violence in towns and homes. Our hearts are broken and we ask, “What can I do about it?” Here is just one story in the history of Christian hymns.
Often there are wonderful meetings of peace-loving people who join their hearts and prayers to understand this deep need. I praise God for them.
But what of the people who can’t attend these gatherings? All of us need encouragement and hope for peace in our troubled world. At times, the best that can happen is that each individual seeks peace in his or her troubled heart. This is what happened to an amazing woman of faith some years ago.
Songwriter Jill Jackson wrote her answer to that question in the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” As she wrote the phrase, “Let peace begin with me,” that was her personal solution, regardless of the world situation. Those words are the theme for the entire song.
Jackson wrote her thoughts in poetic form in 1955. She had just come through severe depression and had tried to take her own life. Through months of recovery, she found a new purpose for living. It came while listening to a sermon on radio. The preacher’s text was based on John 14:27 in which Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you.”
Jackson’s heart responded to the invitation to accept Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. In her weakened condition, she said, “If I live, I will put my life completely in God’s hands. If I live, it will not be as the self-absorbed and tormented woman I have become. I will try to be a window glass through which the light can shine.”
God’s light shone in power as she wrote the words about her own desire for inner peace which she prayed would spread into the world.
The lilting melody was composed by her husband, Sy Miller, who worked for Jan-Lee Music in California.
In the 1960s, it was chosen as the theme song for UNICEF. Its popularity carried it throughout the world. All ages and nationalities joined in deeper bonds of unity each time it was performed.
We, too are filled with hope as we sing, “Let There Be Peace On Earth.” Our longing for peace is matched by our memory of God’s promise in Psalm 29:11, “The Lord will bless His people with peace.”
Lucy Adams In 1984 in Nashville, Tennessee I began to write answers for the question, “Why do people write songs?” Those stories first appeared on a radio program that I created: THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG aired on Christian radio station WWGM.
The program began as I sang six words, “I Love to Tell the Story” and said: “Hi friends, this is Lucy Adams and I tell the story behind the song.” I continued the show for five minutes with a message that answered … who, what, where and why of the hymn – plus a verse or two of the music. These programs continued to play for many years in various towns in Tennessee. Visit my blog to learn more about the stories of our favorite hymns at https://www.52hymns.com/about.htm
Visit the RUBY community for more stories about the history of Christian hymns.