James Whitcomb Riley

7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana

Song Of The New Year

I heard the bells at midnight
Ring in the dawning year;
And above the clanging chorus
Of the song, I seemed to hear
A choir of mystic voices
Flinging echoes, ringing clear,
From a band of angels winging
Through the haunted atmosphere:
'Ring out the shame and sorrow,
And the misery and sin,
That the dawning of the morrow
May in peace be ushered in.'

And I thought of all the trials
The departed years had cost,
And the blooming hopes and pleasures
That are withered now and lost;
And with joy I drank the music
Stealing o'er the feeling there
As the spirit song came pealing
On the silence everywhere:
'Ring out the shame and sorrow,
And the misery and sin,
That the dawning of the morrow
May in peace be ushered in.'

And I listened as a lover
To an utterance that flows
In syllables like dewdrops
From the red lips of a rose,
Till the anthem, fainter growing,
Climbing higher, chiming on
Up the rounds of happy rhyming,
Slowly vanished in the dawn:
'Ring out the shame and sorrow,
And the misery and sin,
That the dawning of the morrow
May in peace be ushered in.'

Then I raised my eyes to Heaven,
And with trembling lips I pled
For a blessing for the living
And a pardon for the dead;
And like a ghost of music
Slowly whispered--lowly sung--
Came the echo pure and holy
In the happy angel tongue:
'Ring out the shame and sorrow,
And the misery and sin,
And the dawn of every morrow
Will in peace be ushered in.'
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