Brief, on a flying night,
From the shaken tower,
A flock of bells take flight,
And go with the hour.
Like birds from the cote to the gales,
A fleet of bells set sails,
And go to the dark.
Sudden the cold airs swing.
A verse of bells takes wing
And flies with the cloud.
~Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell – “Chimes” from more Collected Poems
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.
~Lord Alfred Tennyson
I know there are still communities where the New Year begins at midnight with church bells ringing, just as in days of old.
Here in the frontier of the rural Pacific Northwest, all we can hear from our farm are gun shots, bottle rockets and (what sounds like) explosions of cannon fire.
So much for larger hearts and kindlier hands.
Even without being able to hear wild bells ringing out the old and ringing in the new, let us begin with harmony and manners and care for our neighbors, abandoning a thousand years of war to find a thousand years of peace.
Let the darkness make room for the Light that was and is and will ever be.