Ringing in The New Year

bellsOn New Years Eve groups of church bell ringers will gather all over the world to pray, and reflect, and to ring in the new year. They 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 church bells ring in the New Year 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’

Sounding the Seasons and my new book The singing bowl are both available from Amazon or on order from your local bookstore

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


Filed under christianity, literature, Poems, St. Edward's

9 responses to “Ringing in The New Year

  1. Sorry, ma non riesco a leggere in inglese Buon Anno!

  2. hlreimer

    Sent from my HTC

  3. I love the combination of these two lines:
    So ring them out in joy and jubilation,
    Sound them in sorrow tolling for the lost

    At the turn of the year one needs both emotions.

  4. Pat Conneen

    I especially like the “ringing” in the last three lines when they are read aloud. Happy New Year, Malcolm!

  5. Pingback: Balance in bell-ringing and the Christian life – Romans 12:1-11 | Because God Calls

  6. On Saturday I used this at our District Bellringers Service (https://ramtopsrac.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/balance-in-bell-ringing-and-the-christian-life-romans-121-11/), and your blog post and Tennyson quote may yet feature in the funeral of one of the local bellringing team which I speaking at on Wednesday. Thanks as ever for your wonderful reflections and poetry.

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