Bedford Rings in the New Year

Gathering at midnight to ring the 1836 Blinn bell at First Parish on the Common
Ringing in the New Year at First Parish on the Common

By Julie McCay Turner

In a long-standing First Parish tradition, the congregation’s 1926 Blinn bell pealed at the stroke of midnight; a stalwart crew of young and young at heart came by car and on foot, from Bedford and surrounding towns, to welcome the New Year.

John Gibbons (r) rang the bell in honor of parishioner Alice Groves's 88th birthday as her daughter Ellen (l) looked on.
John Gibbons (r) rang in honor of parishioner Alice Groves’s 88th birthday as daughter Ellen (l) looked on.

Alice Groves celebrated her eighty-eighth birthday at a moment after twelve when Happy Birthday and Robert Burns’s Auld Lang Syne rang out with gusto.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stowp ! and surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes, and pu’d the gowans fine
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d i’ the burn, frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere ! and gie’s a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willy waught, for auld lang syne.

FPB Bell 2013-1
The plaque dedicating First Parish’s church bell in memory of George Blinn is surrounded by revelers gathered at midnight to herald the new year.

CORRECTION: First Parish’s senior minister John Gibbons notes that ” [the bell was] indeed, was given in memory of Georg Blinn by his wife Clara…in 1926.” An earlier edition of this story incorrectly reported the bell to have been dedicated in 1836.


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