Better is Peace (Jenkins 2001)

This article was first published in the November 2018 issue of our parish magazine. You can read it again here.

I have written before that sometimes I hear, sing or play a piece of music and just have to write about it immediately. It can then sit for quite some time waiting for an appropriate time for publication. So it was with this. Written in December 2017, this is the right time: the commemoration of the centenary of the end of the First World War.

This is the final movement of “The Armed Man: a mass for peace” by Sir Karl Jenkins. I had the astonishing good fortune to perform this with the Manchester Chorale twice in 2017, either side of Remembrance Day, first in the Birmingham Symphony Hall, and then in the Bridgewater Hall. The words of the text are credited to Mallory, Anon, Tennyson and Revelations 21.4. It will doubtless be preformed many times the world over as we commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War – the “war to end all wars”.

Although a little repetitive, the lyrics are shown here in full in case you wish to read along as you listen:

  • Better is peace than always war
  • And better is peace than evermore war
  • Always war, always war
  • Better is peace than evermore war
  • And better and better is peace

 

  • L’homme armé doit on douter?

 

  • Better is peace than always war
  • And better is peace than evermore war
  • Always war, always war
  • Better is peace than evermore war
  • And better and better is peace

 

  • Ring, ring, ring, ring
  • Ring, ring, ring, ring!
  • Ring out the thousand wars of old
  • Ring in the thousand years of peace
  • Ring out the old, ring in the new
  • Ring happy bells across the snow
  • The year is going, let him go
  • The year is going, let him go
  • Ring out the false, ring in the new
  • 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
  • The year is going; let him go
  • The year is going; let him go
  • Ring out the false, ring in the true
  • Ring, ring, ring, ring
  • Ring, ring, ring, ring!

 

  • God shall wipe away all tears
  • And there shall be no more death
  • Neither sorrow nor crying
  • Neither shall there be anymore pain

 

  • Praise the Lord
  • Praise the Lord
  • Praise the Lord

At time of writing, many of these lyrics strike a chord.  We are about to enter Advent, and then New Year. We shall indeed be “ringing out the old” and “ringing in the new”. We shall welcome Christmas and celebrate the birth of our Lord with bells and joyful songs. It might even snow! Politically, Mugabe is losing his grip on power in Zimbabwe, Trump is on the verge of impeachment, and the tendrils of Putin’s government are beginning to be seen. “Fake news” abounds and we yearn for Truth from political figures in the UK and Brexit negations seem to stall – again. Could there be a better time to ring out the false and ring in the true?

Carol P


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