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News > College Life > Happy New Year from St John's College

Happy New Year from St John's College

A Happy New Year!

“A Happy New Year!” is my wish to you
Though the wish is centuries old,
For the lips that spoke it to friends they knew
Have long since sweetened the mould.
A Happy New Year!  ‘Tis a greeting wet
With the dews of a purpling dawn,
For last year’s suns are forever set,
And the earth swings into the morn.

A Happy New Year!  It is ever thus,
Though we speak of the good old days,
And we see the time that is lost to us
Through a mellowing, golden haze;
Yet with kindling eye and with hearts aglow,
We wait what the new years bring,
And the old years leave us as they go
Athirst for some far-off spring.

Is it true that we’re better than other times,
Or wiser than our forebears?
Is it true that man steadily upward climbs,
With his fated burden of cares?
I doubt it; and ever I doubt it more,
Though the distant hills look green,
For the days that the future holds in store,
Shall be like to what aye has been.

What has been!  All human history
Is written in blood and tears,
And the freedom of man and his slavery
Alternate through the years;
E’en while the dreamers see descend
Astraea like a star,
Man’s crimes on the recreant nations send
Unleashed the friends of war.

And yet – for Hope never dies – to-day
I frame the old wish for you;
If the old year’s skies were o’ercast and grey,
May the sun shine bright in the new!
I wish you God’s blessings abundantly,
His love and His holy fear,
For thence must come, as it seems to me,
A happy and bright new year.

Very Rev Maurice Joseph O’Reilly, CM
St John’s College Rector, 1915-1933


(Published in the first edition of the Johnsmen’s Magazine, 1919)

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