Sunday, 21 December 2008

Ring Out, Ring Solstice Bells!

Now is the solstice of the year,
Winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.


Join together beneath the mistletoe.
By the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun,
Joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.
These four churches have been brought together into one parish - Kingsdown, Ringwould, Ripple and Sutton.

Apart from the Victorian Kingsdown, they seem to have grown organically from the ground, as the buiders used local materials - flints, marl and possibly their roofs may have originally been thatched.
From simple beginnings, each has benefited from different additions - Ringwould's tower and cupola, Ripple's spire and Sutton's hemispherical chancel.
They may well have been built on sites of pagan worship, and of course many of the Christian rituals have been adapted from the earlier local customs.

The burning of the Yule log, the decorating of trees, the hanging of boughs, holly and mistletoe are all practices associated with the pagan Yuletide celebrations.

In these dark days of winter, it is easy to understand why many diverse civilisations have developed cheery traditions to brighten the spirits.

In the churchyards, as in the countryside, there is little natural colour at this time of the year, but a clump of Feverfew was flowering above the fallen leaves in Kingsdown, and a hawkweed decorated a wall in Ringwould.

3 comments:

Mary said...

These are wonderful photos! I love looking at old churches and you have such great really old ones in England made of wonderful stone. They have a simplicity that many modern ones lack. I love the shape of that last one. The flowers are a wonderful touch in the middle of winter. Do the 4 parishes worship at just one building now, or take turns, or share a priest/minister?

Kingsdowner said...

Mary, thanks for your interest; it's lovely to live where almost every village and town has a building that can trace its story back almost a thousand years.

The last one, Sutton, is very homely.

The parish churches are within about a four mile radius, and share one vicar, and lay readers take some of the services. As all four buildings are still kept working, the financial strain is considerable.

We were married at Ripple, and our children were baptised at Sutton or Kingsdown.

ramblingwoods said...

I forgot it was the solstice..