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 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 my 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, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam CVI

Ring in the Christ that is to be! Can I get an amen?
Photo by St. Andrew Orthodox Church.