World

Ring Out, Wild Bells

January 12, 2021 by

This poem was recently sent to me by a long-time friend, Doug Hostetter, who was the Director of the Mennonite Central Committee United Nations Office for many years, and is now a United Nations Representative for Pax Christi International. He reaches out with courage to our “enemies” and friends around the world. In his letter to me he wrote, “This was written 170 years ago but could have been today!”

Such lines as “For those that here we see no more” or “Ring out old shapes of foul disease” are especially fitting as we miss dear friends who have died from COVID. But just about every line is so very pertinent in the incredible current situation of suffering and lack of love in the world everywhere. The final line is surely the absolute and complete answer to everything, isn’t it?

BellsEmbedPhoto by Grunge Texture from Pexels

"Ring Out, Wild Bells"
Alfred Lord Tennyson

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 kinder hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


Martin Johnson lives with his wife, Burgel, at Maple Ridge, a Bruderhof in Ulster Park, New York.

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