16 August 2017

The English Catholic Hymn Book and Emily Clarke's not very Pindarick Ode to Bergoglio

Here is a piece I originally wrote when I was still pp at S Thomas's. I added the last bit in early February after being sent a link to Emily Clarke's unbelievable ditty. I include also some of the original thread.

When I took over the Church of Sancti Thomae Martyris iuxta Ferriviam Oxoniensium, I found a lovely pile of small green hymn books, apparently dating from the 1930s, in a cobwebby cupboard. The English Catholic Hymn Book  is full of absolute gems, recalling the triumphalist Anglo-Catholicism of the Age of Martin Travers. The numbers start at 800, so as to render it practicable to use it together with the English Hymnal. 936 begins 'The happy birds Te Deum sing,/'tis Mary's month of May./Her smile turns winter into spring,/ And darkness into day' (Alfred Gurney, I think). It goes nicely to the tune of 'O little town of Bethlehem'. Then there's 928, 'O Mother! will it always be,/That every passing year,/ Shall make thee seem more beautiful,/ Shall make thee seem more dear'. That, of course - no prizes - just has to be by the greatest of the Romantic poets, Fr Faber. How could the tedious Mr Wordsworth possibly compare with him? I used it at S Thomas's to the tune of  'It came upon the midnight clear'.

We were once visited (anonymously) at S Thomas's by a chap writing reviews of churches (he wrote in his report of us that he would have given my homily 9/10 had I not ended with a ringing account of the Battle of Lepanto which, he thought, reduced it to a 5/10). He was scathing about the singing of 'I'll sing a hymn to Mary' to the tune of the Eton Boating Song ... a marvellous idea which I had picked up from the late, mighty Fr Melrose of S Giles in Reading (whom I think of every time I take up my beautifully printed 1940s Breviarium Romanum to say my Office, or one of my sticks to go for a walk .... all formerly his). But ... great heavens ... this is just the sort of plundering-for-God, robbing the Devil of his best tunes, that Faber, and the Wesleys, performed. It is the New Evangelism at its most joyous.

The only unhappy gap in this diverting little book seemed to be its lack of Cardinal Wiseman's 'Full in the panting heart of Rome', with its rather unEnglish manipulation of the English language. This got me wondering about producing an Anglicanised version celebrating the infallible magisterial Organ of the poor old Church of England: 'Full in the panting Synod halls /Within Church House's peeling walls/From pilgrims' lips that kiss the ground/Breathes in all tongues one only sound/ God bless our Synod, great and good.'

YAROOH!! Since I wrote all that, I have (4 Feb 2017) been directed to a four-minute Youtube clip showing some elderly chanteuse in a very obviously Irish church, singing an extremely sickly song actually invoking our dear Holy Father! As if he were a numen or ad minimum one of the mighty ones in the militia caelestis exercitus! At least Nicolas Wiseman didn't invoke Pio Nono!! Or is the song a coded cry for Santo subito? It includes lots of shots of pictures of the Sovereign Pontiff exposed in the church for veneration and framed for the camera by candles. And the poor chap isn't even dead yet!

The lady seems to have changed her dress after every few words of her ditty, so I presume an original full, unexpurgated fifty-minute video must somwhere exist showing her multiple strip-teases.This blog will preserve her aged modesty by not providing a link.

The full breadth and depth of Bergoglianism and its sugary personality cult continue to disclose themselves!!


Alan said...

Years since I've heard the "Mary's month of May" hymn, Father, but in my experience it always went to the tune of The Lincolnshire Poacher.

Paul Goings said...

Doesn't everyone sing 'The happy birds Te Deum sing' to the Lincolnshire Poacher?

Adrian said...

In Worthing, the happy birds still Te Deum sing to the tune of 'The Lincolnshire Poacher'.

Titus said...

A delightful, but now how-very-long-defunct (that top post is from December 30, 2011) blog, The Shrine of the Holy Whapping (most of the sites linked on the page's sidebar aren't even active anymore), once described Protestant hymnody as the "spoils of Egypt," fit to be carried off by the Church. This strikes me as a similar point regarding boating tunes.

Ceile De said...


If you enjoyed that particular Irish contribution to church music, you may enjoy another very similar one here, courtesy of the Venerable Fr Ted.


Unknown said...

A great mystery is the identity of the author of many of the choicest gems in the ECHB (e.g. In splendour arrayed...). No authors are given, and they are not in Julian. I have always assumed the ubiquitous Fr Twisaday.

As to ISAHTM and Eton, Fr Melrose got that from Brian Brindley, who (as I recall him telling me) learned it at Bourne Street. That takes the history back to the '50s. As also "THBTDS" and Linconshire.

William said...

Yes, Lincolnshire Poacher's the one, sung with gusto in the Shrine Church at Walsingham. But if one's going to sing "The happy birds" to Forest Green, why not ring the changes a little and have "O little town" to Lincolnshire Poacher next Midnight Mass?

neilmac said...

I still possess a pristine copy of "The English Catholic Hymnal", bought after it was reprinted in 1973,though the cover of this one is blue, not green.

I seem to remember it being used at S Stephen's, Grove Street in Liverpool in the 1970s when Rev. Will Pugh was in charge. S Stephen's had been left isolated in a then fairly desolate landscape, not far from the University, after the slum clearances. Rev. Pugh kept the church going for a number of years with no stipend, providing an Anglo-Catholic witness in the centre of the city

William said...

Your Anglicanised version of "Full in the panting …", would, as sung, render the final line thus:
"God bless our Syn -
God bless our Syn -
God bless our Synod, great and good!"

Some might think that made it even more appropriate. (I couldn't possibly comment.)

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

I have a copy here, once of Holy Redeemer Clerkenwell, where I hope a stock survives - do they still use it? A wonderful gem, as you say. Well fitted to enrich the Ordinariate!

Joshua said...

All right-thinking persons will rejoice at the revival in the City of the noble tradition of the pasquinade:


A France', hai commissariato Congregazioni, rimosso sacerdoti, decapitato l'Ordine di Malta e i Francescani dell'Immacolata, ignorato Cardinali… ma n'do sta la tua misericordia?

(Ah Francis, you have intervened in Congregations, removed priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of the Immaculate, ignored Cardinals... but where is your mercy?)

I do hope the young priests and seminarians responsible are not hung, drawn and quartered in public...

Unknown said...

Another tune for The Happy Birds was Holy Well, found in Ancient and Modern R., 277, dignified and yet folky-tuney. I am told that's what they used at St Paul's,Brighton. Wasn't the origin of Lincolnshire Poacher, St Paul's, Walton Street, Oxford ? But who wrote all those hymns ? The E.C.H.B. was often used at St Michael's Prep School, Otford Court.

√Čamonn said...

Although, Ceile De, the vocalist on that cheerful ditty is neither Fr Crilly nor Fr McGuire but the son of the now-retired Bishop of Clogher (CofI).

Robster said...

I have discovered the author of many of the hymns in ECHB, but they come from Roman sources. It is a pity that these hymns remain anonymous.

As for the panting heart of Rome, this hymn from the U.S. never seemed to cross the Atlantic. The author was the most distinguished hymnologist the American RC Church produced. This hymn is sometimes sung to Forest Green, but the more usual tune can be seen at this page:


1. Long live the Pope! His praises sound
Again and yet again:
His rule is over space and time;
His throne the hearts of men:
All hail! the Shepherd King of Rome,
The theme of loving song:
Let all the earth his glory sing,
And heav'n the strain prolong.
Let all the earth his glory sing,
And heav'n the strain prolong.

2. Beleaguered by the foes of earth,
Beset by hosts of hell,
He guards the loyal flock of Christ,
A watchful sentinel:
And yet, amid the din and strife,
The clash of mace and sword,
He bears alone the shepherd staff,
This champion of the Lord.
He bears alone the shepherd staff,
This champion of the Lord.

3. His signet is the Fisherman's;
No sceptre does he bear;
In meek and lowly majesty
He rules from Peter's Chair:
And yet from every tribe and tongue,
From every clime and zone,
Three hundred million voices sing,
The glory of his throne.
Three hundred million voices sing,
The glory of his throne.

4. Then raise the chant, with heart and voice,
In church and school and home:
"Long live the Shepherd of the Flock!
Long live the Pope of Rome!"
Almighty Father, bless his work,
Protect him in his ways,
Receive his prayers, fulfill his hopes,
And grant him "length of days."
Receive his prayers, fulfill his hopes,
And grant him "length of days."

Anne said...

Father, I would love to read sometime, your meditations or thoughts on that new devotion....the Divine Mercy....now inserted into the octave of Easter, (so we cannot call it some inconsequential simple devotion or memorial)....pretty lofty status. Seems a bit strange to me.