6 December 2023

The dangers of the Adonius

That great mass of fine Neo-Gothic buildings which you pass in the train or along the A27 just by Shoreham's exquisite Art Deco Airport, is dedicated to the Assumption of the Mother of God, and to S Nicolas, despite its local nickname Dracula's Castle. It is very punctilious about retaining a proper spelling of NICOLAS without the H. These things matter. Don't ask me Why ... but they do.

When the College Office Book was reissued in 1914, it contained two new English hymns for the Co-Patron, both in the Sapphic metre. The first was composed by the Wykehamist Adam Fox, Master at Lancing 1906-1918, subsequently Warden of Radley College, Dean of Divinity at Magdalen College and Professor of Poetry; finally Canon, Archdeacon, and Sub-Dean of Westminster Abbey.

I had no success in urging upon my then colleagues the restoration of his hymn to regular use. It was the adonius at the end of this stanza

Teach us to honour Nicolas of Myra,

Foeman to error in the Church's Councils,

Lover of sailors, and above all other

     Lover of Children.

which raised their trembling eyebrows, poor poppets. 

The second hymn was by Athelstan Riley. In his hymn, the adonius was again the problem; in this case, the adonius which concludes the following stanza which, around the time of  'Princess Di's' demise, wrecked my passionate crusade to get it back into the repertoire:

Rouse thee, great goddess of th'Ephesian temple,

For, lo! the offspring of a greater Virgin

Armeth his servant to destroy thine oak tree

     Dumb, dead Diana. 

Fr Fox had kippers for brekker, lunch, and tea. Not many people know that. We live in a world rife with culpable ignorance.

He had wanted his memorial in Westminster Abbey to read "A Fox gone to Earth", but his executors had as little humour as my one-time colleagues.

Jocosity ... mere jocosity ... I do not really criticise or sneer at either Fr Fox's Executors or my former colleagues; or, indeed, at the People's Princess alias Queen of Hearts.



Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

Sometimes, seemingly, I may stray too close to the wind, and my humour over-step the mark. For which I apologise.

But this is what the boys would have called COOL. And which I would categorise as “uber-cool”.

What a joy poetry is!

scotchlil said...

By some curious working of divine providence, 'dumb, dead Diana' was the Office Hymn this morning at St Stephen's House, as advertised by the current Principal...

Banshee said...

Eating canned sardines at every meal is currently a thing for keto and intermittent fasting. Apparently very good for you, if you do it for 48 or 72 hours.

John Patrick said...

It seems our generation cannot distinguish between eros, philos, and agape which has impoverished our ability to express our true feelings.