In Memoriam "Ring In The Christ That Is To Be"

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Ring In The Christ That Is To Be"

Context: This elegy was written as a monument to Arthur Henry Hallam, a young man of extraordinary promise and an intimate friend of Tennyson who died suddenly in Vienna at the age of twenty-two. The poem records the slow, spiritual progress of Tennyson from his initial depth of personal sorrow to the gradual healing of grief through a sense of spiritual contact with Hallam in a wider love of God and humanity. This section and the two preceding sections mark the fourth part of the poem; they describe Christmastide and New Year in Tennyson's new home–the third such season since the death of his friend. Happy, jubilant bells mark the arrival of the New Year; Tennyson's emotional state is equally jubilant. The poet hopes that the bells will ring out the old emotions and old ideas which have isolated man from humanity and stunted his spiritual well-being. He hopes the bells will ring in powers which will unite mankind. He leaves behind "the griefs that sap the mind" and looks forward to an earthly paradise. In the last stanzas, Tennyson calls for a new man typified by Hallam. In the same way that Hallam has been elevated, apotheosized, and finally merged with Christ in the elegy, all mankind will move toward this elevated character as the Spirit of Christ grows to include all men and all religions:

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.