The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Ring Out, Wild Bells

Words by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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.

William L. Simon, ed., Reader’s Digest Merry Christmas Songbook (1981)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is considered the most representative poet of the Victorian Age in England, and many of his works characterize the conflict between the Christian faith and the beginnings of the scientific revolution. The death of his sister's fiancé, Arthur Henry Hallam, at the age of 22 plunged Tennyson into profound shock and a lifelong struggle between faith and doubt. "Ring Out, Wild Bells," generally considered a New Year's hymn, is taken from the 106th Canto of In Memoriam, Tennyson's monumental elegy to Hallam that was published in 1850, the same year that he was appointed Poet Laureate. The melody was once thought to have been based on Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Twelfth Mass. However, modem scholars agree Mozart did not compose the work and attribute it variously to the relatively obscure Carl Zulehner or Wenzel Milllet.

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