Project Canterbury

LEVITY


What's The Use?
by S.J. Forrest

transcribed by Father James Siemens, AF

'Oh just the usual thing you know; the BCP all through,
Just pure and unadulterated 1662;
A minimum of wise interpolations from the Missal,
The Kyrie in Greek, the proper Collects and Epistles,
The Secret and the Canon and the Dominus Vobiscum,
(Three aves and a salve at the end would amiss come);
To the "militant" and "trudle" there is little need to cling,
But apart from these exceptions, just the ordinary thing.'

'Oh, just the usual thing you know; we're C of E of course,
But beautify the service from a mediaeval source,
With various processions, and in case you shouldn't know,
There are tunicled assistants who will tell you where to go;
And should you in bewilderment liturgically falter,
Just make a little circumambulation of the altar.
The blessing, like a bishop, you majestically sing;
But apart from these exceptions, just the ordinary thing.'

'Oh, just the usual thing you know; but very up to date,
Our basis is the liturgy of 1928,
With lots of local colouring and topical appeal,
And much high-hearted happiness, to make the service real;
Our thoughts on high to sun and sky, to trees and birds and brooks,
Our altar nearly hidden in a library of books;
The Nunc Dimittis, finally "God Save The Queen" we sing;
But, apart from these exceptions, just the ordinary thing.'

'Oh, just the usual thing you know, we trust that you'll be able
To mingle with the reredos and stand behind the Table;
(For clergymen who celebrate and face the congregation,
Must pass a stringent glamour-test before their ordination!)
Patristic ceremonial; economy of gesture,
Though balanced by a certain superfluity of vesture;
With lots of flanking presbyters all gathered in a ring,
But, apart from these exceptions, just the ordinary thing.'


A Clergyman in Black
by S.J. Forrest

'I can always spot an extreme clergyman, there is something so black about
his garb'.¬óremark by a suburban Lady


I never, never like to see
A clergyman in black.
It speaks of dark disloyalty,
And clandestine attack;
Of sabotage, conspiracy,
And stabbings in the back.

This black fanaticism bears
The label of the Beast;
An aping of the Romanists,
A masquerade at least,
That makes a clergyman appear
To be a real priest.

Though ministers are difficult
To sift and classify
I finds the deeds of darkness
In the men of deepest dye;
And those in black are normally
So very, very high.

Although I do not like high church
I'd stomach one or two
(The Church of England's big enough
To tolerate a few).
If only they would not behave
As if their faith were true.

A clergyman in corduroys
Or dressed in Harris tweed,
Will generally compromise,
And readily accede;
His safety and his sympathy,
Are wholly guaranteed.

So let us warn our ordinands
Of folly and excess,
And only pass the ministers
Who honestly profess
A variegated churchmanship,
In varicoloured dress.


Hilarity,
or Hymnody

Our church is mighty spikey
with smells and bells and chants,
And Palestrina masses
that vex the Protestants.
O happy ones and holy
who fall upon their knees
For solemn Benediction
And mid-week Rosaries.

Though with a scornful wonder
men see our clergy, dressed
In rich brocaded vestments
as slowly they process;
Yet saints their watch are keeping
lest souls be set alight
Not by the Holy Ghost, but
by incense taking flight.

Now we on earth have union
with Lambeth, not with Rome,
Although the wags and cynics
may question our true home;
But folk masses and bingo
can't possibly depose
The works of Byrd and Tallis,
or Cranmer's stately prose.

(Here shall the organist modulate)

So let the organ thunder,
sound fanfares "en chamade;"
Rejoice! For we are treading
where many saints have trod;
Let peals ring from the spire,
sing descants to high C,
Just don't let your elation
Disrupt the liturgy.


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