Saturday, September 26, 2009


A week or two back I got an invitation to a meeting about the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the cenotaph in Morecambe. Apparently it has been usual for the person holding my post to lead the service, so I went to a planning meeting. It then emerged that the order of service had already been fixed, so whatever was in print was going to happen. It was, therefore, a great relief to see that I vow to thee my country wasn't in the order. I wouldn't want to cause an incident by rather conspicuously not singing.

I was once discussing this with someone who thought I was rather unpatriotic. Setting aside the question as to whether patriotism is a virtue, I pointed out that governments are not always worthy of the unquestioning loyalty of their citizens - Nazi Germany being a prime example. The hymn (if that's the correct term for it) contains the line the love that asks no question, the love that stands the test. I'm afraid I would always want to be able to ask questions.

Fortunately we'll be singing Eternal Father, strong to save and Jerusalem. I know not everyone copes with Jerusalem, worrying about the images taken from the myth that Jesus visited Glastonbury with Joseph of Arimathea. I'm happy to sing the latter, provided everyone is clear the answer to the four questions in the first verse is 'no', and verse 2 is a call to social action in response to the perceived injustices, which were then industrial Victorian England and are now the sweatshops of the developing world. Just don't take it too literally - Blake never intended it like that.

Rant over. Enjoy your singing in church!

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