Happy New Year — A Message from a Dark Past to Guide Our Future

Happy New Year. I interupt our normal political discourse for a brief moment of reflection which we can all use occasionally.

Below is the poem titled “New Year 1945” written seventy years ago by the great Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and Christian martyr Deitrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote this poem while in a Nazi military prison awaiting trial for his anti-Hitler actions. It is a wonderful message of hope for the new year written by a man who knew that his personal chances of survival were very thin. In fact, he was executed in April, 1945, by the Nazis only weeks before the end of the war. Read, reflect, and greet the coming year with hope and good will in your heart.

New Year 1945

With every power for good to stay and guide me,
comforted and inspired beyond all fear,
I’ll live these days with you in thought beside me,
and pass, with you, into the coming year.

The old year still torments our hearts, unhastening:
the long days of our sorrow still endure.
Father, grant to the soul Thou hast been chastening
that Thou hast promised the healing and the cure.

Should it be ours to drain the cup of grieving
even to the dregs of pain, at Thy command,
we will not falter, thankfully receiving
all that is given by Thy loving hand.

But, should it be Thy will once more to release us
to life’s enjoyment and its good sunshine,
that we’ve learned from sorrow shall increase us
and all our life be dedicate as Thine.

Today, let candles shed their radiant greeting:
lo, on our darkness are they not Thy light,
leading us haply to our longed-for meeting?
Thou canst illumine e’en our darkest night.

When now the silence deepens for our harkening,
grant we may hear Thy children’s voices raise
from all the unseen world around us darkening
their universal paean, in Thy praise.

While all the powers of good aid and attend us,
boldly we’ll face the future, be it what may.
At even, and at morn, God will befriend us,
and oh, most surely on each new year’s day!

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