I love church bells, and I often wish I lived in a country parish in England (or anywhere) where the old bells still ring. But on this day I feel their absence keenly. There ought to be bells! I want to hear them ring in this glorious morn, their loud clanging clamorous on the morning air, proclaiming the Good News:
The Savior is here! Rescue has come! The old life is gone, a new life begun! Merry Christmas!
In the absence of such bells, and in my desire to share something “exceeding merrie” on this most joyful solemn day of Our Lord’s nativity, I give you second best: a wildly ringing poem by dear Uncle Alfred.
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 mindFor 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 my mournful rhymesBut 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, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam CVI
Ring in the Christ that is to be! Can I get an amen?
Photo by St. Andrew Orthodox Church.