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"Let There Be Peace on Earth" is a song by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller written in 1955. Jackson, who had been suicidal after the failure of a marriage, later said that she wrote the song after discovering what she called the "life-saving joy of God's peace and unconditional love."
The sheet music of "Let There Be Peace on Earth", published in 1971 by the Charles Hansen Music Company of New York, included this history of the song:
One summer evening in 1955, a group of 180 teenagers of all races and religions, meeting at a workshop high in the California mountains, locked arms, formed a circle and sang a song of peace. They felt that singing the song, with its simple basic sentiment - "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me," helped to create a climate for world peace and understanding.
When they came down from the mountain, these inspired young people brought the song with them and started sharing it. And, as though on wings, "Let There Be Peace On Earth" began an amazing journey around the globe. It traveled first, of course with the young campers back to their homes and schools, churches and clubs. Then the circle started by the teenagers began to grow. Soon the song was being shared in all fifty states - at school graduations and a PTA meetings, at Christmas and Easter gatherings and as part of the celebration of Brotherhood Week. It was a theme for Veteran's Day, Human Rights Day and U.N. Day. 4-H Clubs and the United Auto Workers began singing it. So did the American Legion, the B'nai B'rith, the Kiwanis Clubs and CORE. It was taped, recorded, copied, printed in song books, and passed by word of mouth. The song spread overseas to Holland, England, France, Germany, Lebanon, South America, Asia and Australia. The Maoris in New Zealand sang it - even the Zulus in Africa sang it.
Professional singers took it up. Among them, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Andy Williams, Danny Kaye, Nat King Cole, The Smothers Brothers, Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Eddie Albert, Edie Adams, John Gary, Pearl Bailey, Roberta Shore, Champ Butler, The King Sisters, Mary Tyler Moore, John Raitt, Robie Lester, Liberace, Bob Crosby, the International Children's Choir, Jack Halloran, Gisele MacKenzie, Richard Summers, Lloyd Bridges, Patti Page, Angela Cartwright, The Young Americans, Carole Wells, Jack Smith, Pat Boone, Johnny Mathis, Rhonda Fleming, Stan Melton, Norman Luboff, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Lorne Greene, and the Ted Mack TV Shows and Father Keller Christopher TV Series.
The song began to win awards. "Let There Be Peace on Earth" was awarded the George Washington Honor Medal by the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge for "Outstanding achievement in helping to bring about a better understanding of the American Way of Life." It also received a Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. This simple thought, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me" first born on a mountain top in the voices of youth, continues to travel heart to heart - gathering in people everywhere who wish to become a note in a song of understanding and peace - peace for all mankind.
Today, "Let There Be Peace on Earth" continues to be performed world-wide throughout the year, and particularly during the Christmas season. It is included (either in the original text or in a gender-neutral variant) in the hymnals of a variety of faiths, and is used in worship services even by a number of faiths that do not include it in their hymnals.
It is the finale song during the holidays each year at the "Illuminations: Reflections of Earth on the World Showcase" at Epcot at the Walt Disney World in Florida, featuring narration by Walter Cronkite and the vocal talents of Sandi Patti and Harlem Boys Choir.
On November 7, 1988, it was performed by the GMA Stars and Personalities along with the small group of children with lighted candles in honor of the Launching of GMA-7's 777-foot tower in Tandang Sora, Quezon City, the tallest man-made structure in the country used for the Towering Power: A Musical Dedication.
In 2007, there was a campaign by a Pennsylvania woman to persuade churches to sing this song at the close of the Sunday service nearest to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks and to establish a tradition of "Peace on Earth" Day.