C.82 - (Unfinished) "Ring Out, Wild Bells"

Composed: ~2014 to June 2015

     This is an unfinished choral work which was setting Lord Tennyson’s poem Ring Out, Wild Bells to music. Looking back nearly 3 years later, I don’t recall much about it other than the struggle to try and complete it. Here is his text:

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 began writing it during my time at college due to the influence of Bach chorale writing, and I continued working on it up until July 2015 where it was abandoned and began gathering dust. I managed to set five of the eight stanzas to music.

 

     The opening bare fifths and descending scalic passages in the sopranos were to be recurring motifs, and indeed they appear numerous times in this unfinished work. This may have been one of my attempts at another Christmas Chorale as the text is mildly festive.

Reminiscence written on 17th January 2018

Last updated: 20th October 2018

© 2019 Jonathan Shaw