Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ring Out, Wild Bells ...

Here's a little poetry, courtesy of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to accompany the departure of the old year and arrival of the new. Hopelessly (or hopefully if you like) Victorian, but appropriate still.

These few stanzas are part of Tennyson's much longer In Memoriam A.H.H., written over 17 years and completed in 1849, commemorating his intimate friend, English poet Arthur Henry Hallam (1811-1833), who most likely would have married Tennyson's sister, Emily, had he not died young. The larger work is a little bulky, although generally considered to be the poet's master work and revered as one of the great works of its age.

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 thy 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.

Some of these lines have been set to music many times. Three stanzas, to a tune by Crawford Gates, appear in the 1985 LDS hymnal.

So who better to perform a few of the stanzas than the Crofts, an LDS family from tiny Firth, Idaho, who issued a lovely Christmas album during 2014 entitled "Sparrow in the Birch." The other advantage to this simple setting is that you can actually understand the words, not the case in some more elaborate choral settings. I'm not sure where this tune came from, however.

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