The Bishop of St Albans’ New Year Message 2018
29th December 2017
The Bishop of St Albans message for the start of 2018 provides a message of hope for the start of the year. It recalls the opening words of the uplifting and inspiring poem of Mary Louise Haskins, ‘Gate of the Year’ in contrast to the darkness of life at the start of the year 100 years ago, with the First World War raging and the outbreak of pandemic ‘flu.
The full text of the message appears below:
New Year Message 2018 from the Bishop of St Albans
One hundred years ago, as the New Year in 1918 dawned, many people must have feared the world was falling apart. The death toll of the First World War continued to climb and it is thought that by the Armistice in November that year as many as 18 million soldiers and civilians had been killed across the world. Virtually every family in this country had lost someone in the conflict.
Equally tragic was the outbreak of a deadly flu pandemic in January 1918 which was to spread across the world over the following three years. No one knows how many died, with estimates varying between 50 and 100 million people (three to five percent of the world’s population). It was to become the deadliest natural disaster in recent human history.
These dreadful statistics hide innumerable stories of individual suffering, grief and sorrow, most of which have never been recorded and which now lie forgotten. Not knowing what the future was to hold, it must have been all too easy to give into fear. Yet, even in the darkest times, hope prevailed, famously expressed in the poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins. These same words can also offer guidance and hope for us still today:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
+Alan St Albans