New life and love, and light and hope, this good New Year.

My Pearl Among Women received as a Christmas gift a new CD by John Rutter. We love John Rutter and have a number of his CDs but this collection includes a beautiful song that we were unfamiliar with. It is called New Year and the lyrics are as follows:

Turn your eyes to the light;

Cast away the works of darkness, let them go:

Turn your eyes to the light.

Turn your face to the sun:

Feel the warmth, the hope of new beginnings

With each new year.

The light was always there if we could but see it;

And warmth was in the air if we’d known how to feel.

Turn your eyes to the light,

Turn your face to the sun:

New light, new hope, new year.

Turn your ears to the sound;

Somewhere near, a voice is calling:

Hear the news,

Turn your ears to the sound.

Turn your heart to the love;

Christ is come to bring the world new life.

The voice is always there, if the world will hear it;

And love is always there, if you search in your heart.

Turn your ears to the sound,

Turn your heart to the love:

New life, new love, new year.

New life and love, and light and hope, this good

New Year.

John Rutter
John Rutter

I thought I would share a few thoughts about these words.  The first part of the song is about light and darkness. The symbolism of light and darkness is a familiar one to us. The word light appears 535 times in the scriptures. And it is generally associated with the Son of God. Christ is the light of the world in contrast with Satan who is the Prince of Darkness.

Turn your eyes to the light;

President Uchtdorf has spoken of a painting that he has in his office:

‘The painting shows a dark room with an open door from which light is shining. It is interesting to me that the light coming through the door does not illuminate the entire room—only the space immediately in front of the door. To me, the darkness and light in this painting are a metaphor for life. It is part of our condition as mortal beings to sometimes feel as though we are surrounded by darkness. We might have lost a loved one; a child might have strayed; we might have received a troubling medical diagnosis; we might have employment challenges and be burdened by doubts or fears; or we might feel alone or unloved. But even though we may feel lost in the midst of our current circumstances, God promises the hope of His light—He promises to illuminate the way before us and show us the way out of darkness.’

When we are surrounded by so much darkness it can be tempting to focus on that darkness – instead we should turn our eyes to the light.

In this year’s First Presidency Christmas Message we are reminded that the Lord has promised: “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Cast away the works of darkness, let them go:

Sometimes the darkness has an external source – there is much tragedy and grief in the world – but other times we create the darkness by the things that we do. The phrase ‘cast away the works of darkness seems to refer to Romans 13:12

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

Elder Robert D Hales said : ‘As children, we learned how to keep darkness away by turning on a light. Sometimes, when our parents went away for the evening, we would turn on every light in the house! We understood the physical law that is also a spiritual law: light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs. When the spiritual light of the Holy Ghost is present, the darkness of Satan departs.’

I like John Rutter’s phrase ‘let them go’ – to me this implies that sometimes we hang onto these works of darkness – perhaps ‘favourite’ sins, ingrained bad habits, long held grudges or bad feelings towards other people. Sometimes we wrap ourselves in darkness instead of putting on the armour of light – we need to let them go.

Turn your face to the sun:

There is a Maori proverb – turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought – as we orient our lives towards the Son we can put our fears, our sins, our worries behind us. Some of them may still be there – but they won’t be in front of us all the time.

The song goes on to say that as we turn our face to the sun we can ‘feel the warmth, the hope of new beginnings With each new year.’

New Year is traditionally a time where we take stock, maybe set some goals or make some resolutions. As you face the New Year do you face it with fear and trepidation? Or do you feel the warmth, the hope of new beginnings? Within our own lives we don’t need a New Year to make new beginnings – through the Saviour’s atonement we have the opportunity to continually repent and to continually experience the hope of new beginnings. The Saviour’s atonement is always available to us. As Rutter says in the song:

The light was always there if we could but see it;

And warmth was in the air if we’d known how to feel.

The next thing that the song talks about is:

Somewhere near, a voice is calling:

Hear the news,

Turn your ears to the sound.

Somewhere near a voice is calling – makes me think of the still small voice of the Spirit – if we live worthy of it will call to us – but we have to turn our ears to the sound to hear it – it will generally not shout at us to gain our attention.

Elder Packer, in his classic talk The Candle of the Lord describes it this way:

‘The voice of the Spirit is described in the scripture as being neither “loud” nor “harsh.” It is “not a voice of thunder, neither … voice of a great tumultuous noise.” But rather, “a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper,” and it can “pierce even to the very soul” and “cause [the heart] to burn.” (3 Ne. 11:3Hel. 5:30D&C 85:6–7.) Remember, Elijah found the voice of the Lord was not in the wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but was a “still small voice.” (1 Kgs. 19:12.)

The Spirit does not get our attention by shouting or shaking us with a heavy hand. Rather it whispers. It caresses so gently that if we are preoccupied we may not feel it at all. (No wonder that the Word of Wisdom was revealed to us, for how could the drunkard or the addict feel such a voice?)

Occasionally it will press just firmly enough for us to pay heed. But most of the time, if we do not heed the gentle feeling, the Spirit will withdraw and wait until we come seeking and listening and say in our manner and expression, like Samuel of ancient times, “Speak [Lord], for thy servant heareth.” (1 Sam. 3:10.)’

And what is the news? The news is the good news of the gospel Christ is come to bring the world new life.– that Jesus Christ has atoned for our sins and that his gospel and Church have been restored in theses latter days with all power and authority necessary to help us return to live with our Heavenly Father with our families.

Turn your heart to the love;

In 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 we read:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

It must be a great thing to have the gift of tongues, or the gift of prophesy, or the faith to move mountains – but we are told here that it is a greater thing to be filled with love.

Orson Scott Card put this into modern terms for us: “And though I attend all my meetings faithfully, and fulfill all my callings, and make a home teaching visit during the first week of the month; and though in all ways I am an active Church member, yet if I do not spend time in love and service for others, then I am not yet a Saint, for I do not yet love the Lord with all my heart, might, mind, and strength; and I do not love my neighbor as myself.”

A story is told about Alexander the Great. When he had his portrait painted, the selected artist was greatly perplexed about how to do it. Alexander had an ugly scar from battle on the side of his forehead. The artist did not want to paint that scar in the portrait, because it would be offensive. But leaving the scar out of the painting would not be honest either, and the likeness of his king would be false. The artist finally arrived at a decision what to do. He asked Alexander to lean his head forward and rest it on the fingers of his hand in a way that covered the scar. The finished portrait of the great conqueror was valued as a success.

Do you and I find ways to portray other people in the best light possible, or do we instead focus on their scars?

Elder Dallin H Oakes explains that charity is not an act but a condition or state of being. Charity is attained through a succession of acts that result in a conversion. Charity is something one becomes. Thus, as Moroni declared, “except men shall have charity they cannot inherit” the place prepared for them in the mansions of the Father (Ether 12:34).He also wrote: ‘But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.’ (Moroni 7:47)

The converse would seem to be true – if we are not found possessed of it at the last day it will not be well with us.

Christ spent much of his ministry training 12 men. The world teaches that that we should seek to great, or rich or famous. Jesus was teaching these men that they must be humble. That they were not to be puffed up, that they were not to harbour feelings of envy but were to be meek and gentle and full of love. These are lessons that we all need to learn.

May we all be blessed with New life and love, and light and hope, this good New Year.


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