Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out thy mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

-- Alfred Tennyson, 1850
Alfred Tennyson wrote such poems as Crossing the Bar and Strong Son of God, Immortal Love, which, like the poem above, are fixtures in English hymnody. All three of these were present in The Hymnal (1933). Strong Son of God and Ring Out the Old were present in The Hymnbook (1955). Strong Son of God made it into The Worshipbook (1972), but there is nothing by Tennyson listed in The Presbyterian Hymnal (1990).

We sang this in worship on the last Sunday of 2007, and I was struck by its timeliness, even considering that the hymn in the older red hymnal consists of only stanzas 2, 4, 7, and 8 of the poem above.

It is a pity that none of Tennyson's hymns made it into the latest PC(USA) hymnal. For this election year, Ring Out the Old, Ring In the New could serve to call us away from the evils of inequity, greed, hate, war, and partisanship.

The words to the poem, Ring Out, Wild Bells, and the image of Tennyson were obtained from Wikipedia. The photograph is from the 1904 book, The Hundred Best English Poems, which was released in 2006 by Project Gutenberg.

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