4 May 2022


Fr Bryan Houghton writes about his tastes when he was ten years old: "Now, I hated hymns. I do not know why. It is just a fact.When grown-ups talked about 'pornography' I thought they were talking about 'hymn-singing."

But, in later life, he was converted. " ... when Paul VI canonised the forty English Martyrs ... I wrote a beautiful poem for the occasion. Unfortunately it was not sung, as I had intended, in Saint Peter's--but it was in many churches in England, including Saint James's, Spanish Place, in London."

To be sung to the tune of 'The Church's One Foundation' or 'I'll Sing a Hymn to Mary'.

The Church's transformation/ By Paul the Sixth our Pope/ Has left for contemplation/ A void deprived of Hope,/ Where Charity is wanting/ And Faith is fled as well./ One hears above the chanting/ A little hiss from Hell.

Four more stanzas to be found in Unwanted Priest.



coradcorloquitur said...

I am glad, Father, that you have brought up again the memoirs of Father Brian Houghton recently published by Angelico Press. Many years ago I read with much pleasure his charming "Miter and Crook." On your recommendation, I bought and read his "Unwanted Priest" with equal delight but also with some puzzlement. That a former practicing Anglican would hate hymns is beyond my comprehension---as I think the vigorous singing of hymns in Anglican churches was (is?) a delight and joy that has eluded Catholics in some cultures. The classical hymns were also generally superb sources of sound, accessible theology as well as good poetry and music. What's not to like?! I am very happy that in the ordinariate parishes I know the devotion (for it is that) of hymn singing remains healthy. It fosters a muscular Christian spirituality and forges strong personality traits. And, no, it does not---contra the liturgical purists and "chant only" advocates---conflict with the liturgy of the Mass but embellishes, ennobles it. Where my reading of Father Houghton's memoir went sour for me was in the chapter he devotes to accusing the great Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre of being both "stupid" and schismatic, although he also calls him "a very good man"; any fair observer would know he was neither but was instead the lonely prelate who preserved the apostolic Mass and the training of orthodox priests to say it and minister to souls. The proof is in the pudding: what remains of Archbishop Lefebvre's courageous refusal to disobey Tradition and obey modernism is for all who are fair-minded to see (realized most recently by the bishop emeritus of Chur, Switzerland, who retired to live in one of the SSPX houses): thousands of churches and chapels; dozens of schools; five seminaries filled to capacity; thriving religious communities of brothers and nuns; vigorous congregations of orthodox Catholics receiving both the sacraments and the undiluted, uncompromised Faith of the Ages. The recently retired bishop of the ancient See of Chur, Switzerland, for one, has acknowledged such good fruits and gone to live in retirement in one of the Society of St. Pius X priories. Whereas, despite his sterling intentions and academic efforts to support the traditional Catholics then left wandering in the desert created by post-conciliar reforms, Father Houghton's comfortable retirement in the south of France, on the whole, did not produce remotely comparable fruits for the beleaguered faithful he had so earnestly cared for both as parish priest and later as meandering defender of Mass and doctrine. There are times when Anglo-Saxon hyper-individualism is not the best remedy.

Allen Maynard said...

Just another reason to re-read this splendid book. It is more than just the (important) "story" of an "unwanted" priest - and the almost-unbelievable state of the Church in the immediate post-Conciliar periosd. Fr. Houghton's memoir is filled with engaging anecdotes and vignettes, astute insights on matters ecclesial, theological, and of course liturgical; and displays a whimsical, self-deprecating sense of humor that must have endeared him to his friends. Father, did you ever cross paths with him?

coradcorloquitur said...

Father Hunwicke: Has the format of your blog changed to exclude comments now? I cannot find any comments for the entries of the past few days? Is your blog being sabotaged? I have always enjoyed the comments and miss them. Thanks