Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), portrait by P. Krämer-Friedrich Bruckmann

The text follows a poem written by Lord Alfred Tennyson. Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular British poets. It forms part of In Memoriam, Tennyson's elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam, his sister's fiancé who died at the age of twenty-two.

According to a story widely held in Waltham Abbey, and repeated on many websites (see two examples below), the 'wild bells' in question were the bells of the Abbey Church. According to the local story, Tennyson was staying at High Beach in the vicinity and heard the bells being rung. In some versions of the story it was a particularly stormy night and the bells were being swung by the wind rather than deliberately.

Musical Settings Edit

  1. Charles Gounod's setting for voice and piano, published in 1880, uses verses one, two, three, five, seven, and eight.
  2. Percy Fletcher's 1914 SATB setting uses all but the fifth stanza of the poem, using the second stanza as a recurring refrain
  3. The second, seventh and eighth stanza were set to music by Karl Jenkins in the finale ("Better is Peace") of The Armed Man.
  4. The first, second and last stanza were set to music by Crawford Gates, and it is included as Hymn #215 in LDS 1985 Hymnal.
  5. The first, second, third, fifth and seventh stanzas are set to music by Jonathon Dove for the final movement of his "Passing of the Year" song cycle written for Double Choir (SSAATTBB).
  6. James Q Mullholland – set the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th stanzas to music in honour of Gary Schwartzhoff in a commissioned piece by members and friends at First Congregational Church, Eau Claire, WI. 2011. First sung by the UW Eau Claire Concert Choir on Sunday, 10 April 2011. Sung again by the Chancel Choir of First Congregational Church on Sunday, 22 May 2011.
  7. Excerpts of the poem were also utilised by George Harrison in his song Ding Dong, Ding Dong ("Ring out the old – Ring in the new. Ring out the false – Ring in the true"). Harrison misattributed these passages to Sir Frank Crisp once they were all written and engraved on walls and other parts of Friar Park, the mansion bought by Harrison which once belonged to Sir Frank.
  8. The final song of "Ballads for Christmas" by Andrew Downes for high voices and harp.

Artistic Recordings Edit

External Links Edit

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