Ringing in The Year

bellsOn New Years Eve a group of us will gather in the mediaeval Bell Tower of St. Edward’s church in Cambridge to pray, and reflect, and to ring in the new year. We will be participating in a long tradition. George Herbert imagined Prayer itself as ‘Church Bells beyond the stars heard’ and the great turning point in In Memoriam, Tennyson’s great exploration of time and eternity, mortality and resurrection, doubt and faith, comes with the ringing of bells for the new year and his famous and beautiful lines beginning ‘Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,’ and concluding:

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. (For more of this passage and my talks on Tennyson click Here)

I love to hear our bells, the oldest of which has chimed in our tower since the fifteenth century, and so I have made my own small contribution to the poetry and meaning of bell ringing in the following sonnet, which is taken from my collection ‘Sounding the Seasons’

As always you can hear the sonnet by clicking on the title or pressing the ‘play’ button.

New Year’s Day: Church Bells

 Not the bleak speak of mobile messages,

The soft chime of synthesised reminders,

Not texts, not pagers, data packages,

Not satnav or locators ever find us

As surely, soundly, deeply as these bells

That sound and find and call us all at once

‘Ears of my ears’ can hear, my body feels

This call to prayer that is itself a dance.

So ring  them out in joy and jubilation,

Sound them in sorrow tolling for the lost,

O let them wake the church and rouse the nation,.

A sleeping lion stirred to life at last

Begin again they sing, again begin,

A ring and rhythm answered from within.

The Bell Tower at St. Edward King and Martyr Cambridge

The Bell Tower at St. Edward King and Martyr Cambridge

6 Comments

Filed under christianity, Poems, St. Edward's

6 responses to “Ringing in The Year

  1. Liz Hoare

    Hi Simon

    Hope you all had a good Christmas.

    I haven’t been well since Christmas Day and have been confined to the house – flu I think. I still feel quite ropey so not up to being sociable. I don’t think Toddy and Felix will come without me so apologies from all of us and hope you have a good evening.

    Liz

  2. Janet Rees

    Wonderful words – come o come to my sleepy part of Wales!

  3. I could hear those bells in the last lines of your reading. Wonderful sonnet! And a Happy New Year to you! It’s ringing across the sea to you in Britain from us in from Canada!

  4. Pingback: Planets, Beginnings, and Church Bells. A Short Farewell to 2012… « Wandering Tree

  5. Pingback: Christmas nights at home | Kerry's loft

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