Peace is an enduring spiritual theme, especially this time of year.

Calls for peace are everywhere—on decorations, in commercials, and on Christmas cards. We sing about peace. We wish for it. We pray for it. And yet the peace we crave eludes us. Thinking about this recently, I recalled the scripture “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly” (James 4:3).

Maybe we are asking wrongly when we seek peace outside ourselves without first knowing it within. As divine beings, we already have perfect peace within us. We don’t need to create it, but we do need to claim it. The beauty and simplicity of that idea is perfectly expressed in the song “Let There Be Peace on Earth.”

Although it is a well-known staple in Unity and other churches, not everyone is aware of this beloved song’s origins. In the summer of 1955, lyricist Jill Jackson-Miller and her musician husband Sy listened to a radio program featuring the idea that for peace to become a reality, it must first be in the hearts and practice of the individual. One of Jill’s daughters, a young teen at the time, recalled that her mom woke up one morning with the phrase in her head, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

Seeking Spiritual Solutions

But long before that summer and her sudden inspiration, Jill’s life was far from peaceful. Born in Independence, Missouri, she was orphaned as a young child and placed into foster care. Her difficult childhood would eventually plunge her into lingering despair and isolation. After her first marriage ended in divorce, leaving her to raise two young daughters alone, Jill attempted suicide. This painful experience led her to embark on a journey seeking spiritual solutions to life’s troubles. Her growing awareness of the presence of a higher power in her life would guide her life’s direction and influence her future career as an actor and songwriter.

Her growing awareness of the presence of a higher power in her life would guide her life’s direction and influence her future career as an actor and songwriter.

According to her daughter, Jill was introduced to Unity by her physical therapist during her long recovery from her suicide attempt. Jill credited Silent Unity and New Thought principles with helping her regain her life.

Translated into many languages, “Let There Be Peace on Earth” has been heard worldwide by audiences large and small. It was the final song performed during the Christmas holidays in the “IllumiNations” fireworks show at Epcot at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It was performed for Pope Francis at the World Trade Center site in New York City in 2015. The song also appears in several Christian hymnals.

It found new popularity in 1993, when “Let There Be Peace on Earth” was the title song on American country singer Vince Gill’s Christmas album. The song remains popular at Christmastime, reminding listeners to look inward for peace, claim it, and share it with the world.

Peace Begins with Me

Jill Jackson-Miller passed away in 1995, and though she appeared as an actor in 20 films, her enduring legacy is this simple waltz with a singable melody and powerful message of transformation.

I have played or sung “Let There Be Peace on Earth” thousands of times and never grown weary of it. Each time I sing it, I am affirming my commitment to bring about a peaceful planet and the awareness that the power to create lasting peace must begin in my heart.

Knowing a bit about the story of Jill Jackson-Miller’s early life deepens the impact of her lyrics and offers all of us special hope. We can know deep suffering and loneliness. We can feel despair and hopelessness. Yet we can take comfort knowing that is never the end of the story. Peace, the perfect peace of God, is already ours. As we claim this peace for ourselves, the peace we wish to see truly does begin with us.

Let There Be Peace on Earth

By Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.

With God our creator*
We are family,
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now;
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment and live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

Copyright by Jan-Lee Music, 1955, 1983. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
*Copyright-protected alternate lyrics.

This article appeared in Daily Word magazine®.

About the Author

Rev. Richard Mekdeci is a Unity minister and cofounder of emPower Music & Arts ( He serves along with his wife, Rev. Paula Mekdeci, at Unity Renaissance of Chesapeake, Virginia.


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