December 31, 2016

“Ring out the old, ring in the new” … Happy New Year from!


“Ring out the old, ring in the new.”
Alfred Tennyson (a.k.a. Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson; 1809-1892)
       English poet 
       Famous line from Tennyson’s
In Memoriam A.H.H. (1850)
Many websites and books say these familiar words linked to New Year’s Eve are from a Tennyson poem titled “Ring Out, Wild Bells.” Technically, that’s incorrect. 
       The verses that go by that name come from Tennyson’s epic work, In Memoriam A.H.H., his elegiac musings on the death his friend
Arthur Henry Hallam (the “A.H.H.” in the title). In Memoriam A.H.H. is essentially a very long poem comprised of 131 short ones that are referred to as cantos. These cantos were not given individual names by Tennyson. The popular title “Ring Out, Wild Bells” are the first four words of the canto that includes the line “Ring out the old, ring in the new.” (Canto CVI, or 106 in Roman numerals). Here’s the part where the famous lines first appear…  
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.

       The tradition of tolling bells to “ring out” the year that is ending and “ring in” the new one predates Tennyson.
It’s actually an old custom in England and many countries around the world. However, Tennyson is generally credited for cementing “Ring out the old, ring in the new” into the English language and making it a linguistic tradition associated with New Year’s celebrations.  

Phil Hands, I want my country back 

      “Gloom is a terrible way to ring out the old, and despair is of no help in trying to imagine the new.
       So let us consider what good might come from the political situation in which we will find ourselves in 2017.  Doing this does not require denying the dangers posed by a Donald Trump presidency or the demolition of progressive achievements he could oversee. It does mean remembering an important distinction President Obama has made ever since he entered public life: that ‘hope is not blind optimism.’
      ‘Hope,’ he argued, ‘is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it, and to work for it, and to fight for it.’”
E.J. Dionne Jr.
       American political commentator and professor at Georgetown University      
his December 28, 2016 column in the Washington Post
by Phil Hands for the Wisconsin State Journal)


“Bring out the old, bring in the new
A midnight wish to share with you
Your lips are warm, my head is light
Were we alive before tonight?
I don't need a crowded ballroom
Everything I want is here
If you're with me, next year will be
The perfect year.”

Don Black
       English lyricist
       Lyrics from
“The Perfect Year,” one of the songs in the musical Sunset Boulevard, with lyrics by Black and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. (First performed in London in 1993.)


“Yesterday, today was tomorrow
And tomorrow, today will be yesterday
So, ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the old, ring in the new
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

George Harrison (1943-2001)
       English rock musician
       From the lyrics of his 1974 song
“Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (included on the Dark Horse album)

James Joyce finnegans_wake

“Wring out the clothes! Wring in the dew! Godavari, vert the showers! And grant thaya grace! Aman.”
James Joyce (1882-1941)
       Irish novelist and poet 
from his novel Finnegans Wake (1939)
       What's Joyce’s version mean? Well,
in his book Verbal Behavior (1957), American psychologist B.F. Skinner offered this, er, helpful explanation: “Joyce’s line ‘Wring out the clothes, wring in the dew’ borrows strength from the latent intraverbal sequence ‘Ring out the old, ring in the new,’ as well as from a current theme of women washing clothes in the open air. The line may not be musical, it may or may not evoke emotional or practical responses, but it clearly manipulates verbal strength. It is this verbal play which is reinforcing to the reader and hence indirectly to the writer.” ... Got it?


“Wring out the Old; Bring in the New...
The Old: Sponges can be sanitized in the microwave.
The True: Using the microwave can be risky...there is the possibility of starting a fire.”
The American Cleaning Institute (formerly the Soap and Detergent Association)
       In the
January/February 2009 edition of the organization’s newsletter, "Cleaning Matters"

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook group.

Related reading…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy

Creative Commons License
Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

The Quote/Counterquote blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Any duplicative or remixed use of the original text written for this blog and any exact duplications the specific sets of quotations collected for the posts shown here must include an attribution to and, if online, a link to

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something we've posted and think we may have violated fair use standards, please let me know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and are committed to protecting your privacy. We will not sell your email address, etc. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.