A very Happy New Year to everyone! May it bring peace, happiness, good ringing and a rapidly reducing viral threat.
While many greet the New Year to the words of Auld Lang Syne, another New Year’s poem which seems especially relevant to the present time is Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Ring out, wild bells:
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.
I was reminded of the poem by a radio programme recently and realised how much its words resonated with me at the moment, as they may also for you (apologies for the pun). Written in 1850, it speaks of the desire for things to be better and, with the passing of 2021 marking nearly two years of repeated pandemic-related limitations alternating with our hopes of normality being raised and then dashed, this desire is shared by many right now.
But while we ringers all aim to ring out the false [and] ring in the true, I wonder how good we are at really ring[ing] in the new. We tend to take comfort in the familiar and are often suspicious of change so it’s tempting to just want everything to get back to “normal”.
But I think as we emerge from the pandemic (and we will!) we have a great opportunity to think differently about how to make ringing flourish. In other words not just back to normal, but let’s create a new and better normal.
So let’s each of us ask ourselves what we can do as individuals to help. We need new ideas, open minds, and a willingness to help others. Our towers and Districts are often short of helpers – why not see what you can do to help? We need a constant supply of fresh officers and ringing leaders at all levels to help bring energy and stop us getting stale. So, how about it?
Are you up for the challenge in 2022? I really hope you are and if you would like to discuss how you might help just get in touch with me.
Here’s to a great New Year!
More to follow …