The Interfaith Contact Group

The Brighton & Hove Interfaith Contact Group


Translate this website

Words of Reflection and Humour for New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2020

As we move towards the end of a thoroughly difficult year, it seemed time to include a humorous poem in our latest Words of Connection. But before this, we open with a universal blessing written for those that live in our City, and beyond. This is followed by a New Year’s prayer written by Dr Johnson. Apparently from 1745 until his death in 1748, Dr Johnson would write a prayer in the early hours of New Year’s Day, and so we have included his writing in this week’s Words of Connection. Our third reading is a poem on the theme of Freedom by Rabindranath Tagore, the great Bengal poet, author and painter. His powerful message seemed right for this moment.

And so… For the 40th edition of Words of Connection we close with something a bit different. It’s Ogden Nash’s charming grumble about infectious colds, and their impact on him and his family. It’s called Winter Complaint. This also seemed to resonate with the mood of the moment.

May I take this opportunity to wish you health and happiness, and blessings for 2021. May this New Year offer new hope to all of us, particularly you and those people important to you in your life.

Very best wishes,

Chair IFCG



Light a candle tonight
Then join me on the bandstand at midnight
When we will feel the chill of the winter wind
And yet stay warm as the flame lives on

Peer into the darkness of a strange New Year’s Eve
And meet an unexpected peace
Quiet but for the roaring sea and the howling wind
And empty save for the spirits of dreamers

The clock strikes midnight…
Feel the wind and hear the sea

Witness the sleeping sea-front
Sharing the blessings of wind, water, air and earth.

We ask the spirit of Divinity
To give us a new page in the history of our City

And so we are blessed:
Strong and weak
Young and old
Near and far
The dwellers of this place
And beyond

Let’s open our hearts without fear
And be blessed this night
On the eve of the New Year


Dr Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Almighty God,
by whose mercy my life has continued for another year,
I pray that, as my years increase, my sins may not increase.
As age advances,
let me become more open, more faithful and more trusting in you.
Let me not be distracted by lesser things
from what is truly important.
And if I become infirm as I grow old,
may I not be overwhelmed by self-pity or bitterness.
Continue and increase your loving kindness towards me,
so that, when you finally call me to yourself,
I may enter into eternal happiness with you,
Through Jesus Christ my Lord.


Rabindranath Tagore

Freedom from fear is the freedom
I claim for you my motherland!
Freedom from the burden of the ages, bending your head,
breaking your back, blinding your eyes to the beckoning
call of the future;
Freedom from the shackles of slumber wherewith
you fasten yourself in night’s stillness,
mistrusting the star that speaks of truth’s adventurous paths;
freedom from the anarchy of destiny
whole sails are weakly yielded to the blind uncertain winds,
and the helm to a hand ever rigid and cold as death.
Freedom from the insult of dwelling in a puppet’s world,
where movements are started through brainless wires,
repeated through mindless habits,
where figures wait with patience and obedience for the
master of show,
to be stirred into a mimicry of life.


Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

Now when I have a cold
I am careful with my cold,
I consult a physician
And I do as I am told.
I muffle up my torso
In woolly woolly garb,
And I quaff great flagons
Of sodium bicarb.
I munch on aspirin,
I lunch on water,
And I wouldn’t dream of osculating
Anybody’s daughter,
And to anybody’s son
I wouldn’t say howdy,
For I am a sufferer
Magna cum laude.
I don’t like germs,
But I’ll keep the germs I’ve got.
Will I take a chance of spreading them?
Definitely not.
I sneeze out the window
And I cough up the flue,
And I live like a hermit
Till the germs get through.
And because I’m considerate,
Because I’m wary,
I am treated by my friends
Like Typhoid Mary.

Now when you have a cold
You are careless with your cold,
You are cocky as a gangster
Who has just been paroled.
You ignore your physician,
You eat steaks and oxtails,
You stuff yourself with starches,
You drink lots of cocktails,
And you claim that gargling
Is a time of waste,
And you won’t take soda
For you don’t like the taste,
And you prowl around parties
Full of selfish bliss,
And greet your hostess
With a genial kiss.
You convert yourself
Into a deadly missle,
You exhale Hello’s
Like a steamboat wistle.
You sneeze in the subway
And you cough at dances,
And let everybody else
Take their own good chances.
You’re a bronchial boor,
A bacterial blighter,
And you get more invitations
Than a gossip writer.

Yes, your throat is froggy,
And your eyes are swimmy,
And you hand is clammy,
And you nose is brimmy,
But you woo my girls
And their hearts you jimmy
While I sit here
With the cold you gimmy.