Project Canterbury

We Are Five:
A Ballad for the Times Respectfully Dedicated to the Ritual Commission.

By Philip Hale.

London: G.J. Palmer, 1868.

SOME wise men once by Mandament
Their heads together laid,
How they might go to Parliament,
To make High Church afraid.

Then many meetings did they hold
And did commission a
Man to be in every fold
A Grieved Parishioner.

But when the people laughed to scorn
Their trick,—as I’m alive!
They multiplied the child they’d borne,
And made him into Five!

And wisely they that number took
The Ritualists to break;
For did not David from the brook
Five smooth-faced pebbles take?

Five are the grievous sins they say,
Involved in Holy Rites;
Cross, Incense, Vestments, and by day,
The Altar with its Lights.

Five senses too link earth and sky;
Are portals of the soul;
So Five shall guard lest impulse high
Through sensuous gates should roll.

Five Protestants of stubborn breed,
If wealthy all the better,
Whose minds the spirit do not heed,
Whose lives deny the letter.

No standards shall their conscience grieve;
One test competitive:
“You don’t in Holy Church believe?—
Then be you of the Five.”

Thus one shall Smell who knoweth well
The meaning of each whiff;
Sweet savour of Conventicle;
And keenly Rome can sniff;

And one shall Hear who doth not fear
The agony of drawl;
Who thinks a rant than solemn chant
The worship best for all.

And he shall Feel who can’t conceal
The smart of disciplining
His fretful frame on seat of deal
Without a velvet lining.

And lest the wight who walks by Sight
Should have his Faith excited,
No Cross shall he on Altar see,
No Candles ever lighted.

Then, Brother Taste can realize
That God is very gracious,
Only when Clerk to Priest replies
Above a pew capacious.

So at some dreary Temple door
When Faith and Love arrive,
They’ll hear the dragon’s senseless roar:—
“Nay, Priest, but we are Five.”

In vain they’ll urge that Right and Law
In Rubrics still survive:
“We’ll not be reverent: hold your jaw:
You know that we are Five.”

At what the Early Church did do,
You surely will connive:—
“No, no, we’re Law and Gospel too:
The Modern Church is Five.

From “two or three” ‘tis said, you see,
True worship we derive:—
“But Law has added two or three,
And made a Holy Five.

“At sale or inn, where’er we stop,
The Prayer Book we discuss;
The anger farmer and small shop-
Keeper are all with us.”

The poor man loves the chanted strain,
The rich his best to give:—
“O! we will make that all in vain
For are not we the Five?”

“We’ll set your Rites throughout to rights,
And regulate Plain Song;
Our soul delights in Gospel-fights,
And Five can not be wrong.”


If Old Church Rule they will not have,
Each Heresy will thrive;
And while for Self they freedom crave,
They’ll make a Pope of Five.

Project Canterbury