Ring Out Wild Bells

Well, it is officially the Christmas season now, I suppose. I’ve been doing my Christmas shopping, baking Christmassy treats, and planning festivities. And yet it isn’t Christmas yet. It’s still Advent. Technically Advent is the time leading up to the arrival of Christ on Christmas day – but it also allegorically follows the suffering of the people of God who have been waiting for the coming of their salvation. The four weeks leading up to Christmas serve as a reminder of the difficulties of this life while waiting for the coming of the Messiah – the consolation.

I think I’ve been living in my own personal advent season for the past several months. It’s like an ‘almost winter but never Christmas’ feeling that comes when hope is deferred. I guess it happens to everyone now and again – that feeling of being constantly in a waiting-mode and unable (or, at least, too afraid) to get out of the cycle. All the Advent carols are in minor keys. Perhaps it’s just me, but it’s so much more fun to play songs with minor chords.

But I can’t live life like that – constantly playing a mournful melody and scraping the ice off my car with no Christmassy reward. Eventually I need to change key – eventually Christmas day will come. Eventually the winter will end.

I suppose what I am trying to say here is that Christmas is a promise – that life can have peace to end the suffering, that joy will come in the morning, and that “Aslan is on the move.” Maybe my own advent season will not end this Christmas day, but the promise of Christmas is that this time will end – that there is never a winter without the promise of Christmas for the Child of God.  And so, for this reason, there is a thaw in my winter – a major chord thrown in my minor melody – Christmas is a reminder that our suffering will end, that it has been portioned out, that it has been borne by another.

So, child of Christ, if you are like me and feel the weight of the world – the longing for relief – do not despair. Despite the rampant commercialization of Christmas, the cheesy song-lyrics, and the over-abundance of shoppers on the streets, let each sparkle of this season remind you that we do not suffer as those without hope – for Christ is coming, and He has come, and someday soon your Christmas morning will dawn – bright, new, and filled with hope.

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.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


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