Ring Out the Old…Ring in the New

Beginnings and Endings 

Becca Stevens is the most inspiring person I met in 2017. She is an Episcopal priest, an author and the founder of Thistle Farms, a life-transforming ministry of recovery and social enterprise for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, and addiction.  12923288_10156784985305611_4888667385524284798_n-e1479161015679The women of Thistle Farms are living proof that “Love Heals.”

Becca was the writer for last week’s devotions in The Upper Room Disciplines. She wrote:

Every beginning in our lives has an ending. Each ending marks a new beginning. Always we begin anew with confidence that we will not be alone.  We live in faith that God meets us in all our futures.  Wherever life leads us God is with us. 

Her hopeful words reminded me of an old poem to which I often return at the beginning of the year.

Ring Out, Wild Bells!

One of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s greatest works grew out of his most painful loss, the death of his best friend and his sister’s fiancé, Arthur Henry Hallam, at age 22.  Tennyson worked on In Memoriam A.H.H for 17 years, which suggests that the way from grief to hope is not a sprint but a marathon.  He marked his poetic journey with the passing of three Christmas celebrations.

Midway through the poem, there’s an abrupt change in rhythm and spirit.  Tradition says it was written after Tennyson awoke to the ringing of the bells in Waltham Abbey.  His words have an amazingly contemporary ring as we enter 2018.

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.

For Your Spiritual Growth 

Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent are just around the corner (February 14).  This my invitation for you to use Easter Earthquake as a part of your spiritual discipline.

41HPb-i2sIL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_It’s a daily guide to scripture, reflection and prayer which centers our Lenten journey in the resurrection.  You can also participate in an online study that a includes my video commentary and other resources at Upper Room eLearning.

My prayer is that the Spirit will use this study to energize people with the hope of new life in the resurrection.

Happy New Year!


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8 thoughts on “Ring Out the Old…Ring in the New

  1. Thanks, Jim. We’re 40-year users of UR Disciplines & love knowing more about Becca, & getting to read a great poem by Tennyson. Happy 2018 to you.


  2. sbryantupperroom January 1, 2018 — 3:27 pm

    Thanks for a good new year message. Thanks also for such a good contribution to The Upper Room’s ministry and to spiritually hungry people we’re serving over the years and now through your writing. I hope the new year holds great things for you and that we can have more conversations along the way. You’ve got important insight to share.

    Stephen Bryant
    The Upper Room

    1. Thanks! It’s a privilege for me to play a small part in the ministry of the Upper Room. Looking forward to continued opportunities to be together.

  3. Happy New Year, Jim,

    Thank you for the poem and your devotions.

    Pastor Judy

    Judith Cramer judycramer@aol.com

  4. May God bless you and your family in the new year ahead.

    Ric Schopke

  5. Great job, Jim. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your faith…

    See you at the Y… & our regards to Martha…

    Archie & Carolyn

  6. Jim, would you please say more about the abrupt change of tone, because I am not seeing it, and I would like to. Lfw

    Sent from my iPad


    1. It’s the only canto in the long poem in which most of the lines begin with the same word, “ring.” Whereas most of the rest of the poem feels rather reflective and sombre, these lines are stronger, bolder declarative statements. I was reflecting on the way these lines feel for me in contrast to rest.

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