Ring Out, Ring Out Thy Mournful Rhymes

December 3, 2010

600 human voices are a powerful thing, so when they opened tonight with, “Of the Father’s love begotten/ E’er the worlds began to be,” the tears came. And they kept coming over the next two hours. Luther College knows how to put me through the wringer.

I make a big act of being a scrooge at Christmastime, but the truth of the matter is that I love the sort of Christmas I experienced tonight. (It’s all the shiny trappings that bring out my inner Ebenezer.) I sing at least one Christmas carol to myself every day during Advent, a season that prepares me for the shock of Christmas– Immanuel. “How lovely shines the morning star! O, what a radiance from afar that gives us light and comfort.” I think it utterly appropriate that this season in the church calendar takes place in some of the darkest time of the year here. What better symbol for a God that just won’t stay away from us than a star lighting up the night?

So all night long I let holy words wrench tears from my eyes. I’d give just about anything to be the walls of that auditorium, so I could hear it again. All my anger and rage stood no chance against the peace and comfort of incarnation. I’ll be mad again. I’ll probably be mad tomorrow. But tonight, “the peace that passeth understanding” makes a little sense to me.

I’ll leave you with a text from Tennyson that they sang tonight. And yes, this one made me bawl.

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 thy mournful rhymes,
But bring 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.

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One Response to “Ring Out, Ring Out Thy Mournful Rhymes”

  1. Jacob B. said

    This means so much to me. Thanks Christopher!

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