Ring Out, Wild Bells, for Christ Is Coming

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The Old Testament instructed the Jewish people to mark the first of the year by God’s deliverance of them from Egypt at the exodus. As the Jews celebrate the passover year after year, the passover seder meal is punctuated by the exclamation, “Next year in Jerusalem!” This is nothing less than a cry of hope that this year Messiah will come; this year the prophecies will be realized; this year the exiles will be brought home; this year Messiah will set up his throne and set all things right.

A Christian exclamation of this same hope is well articulated in the (millenial!) selection from Alfred Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” known as “Ring Out, Wild Bells.”

May the bells ring wild with joy this year at the coming of Christ. Come soon, Lord Jesus!

Ring Out, Wild Bells
(from “In Memoriam”)
by Alfred Tennyson (England 1809-1892)

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.

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.