Monday 18 September 2023

The Church Decline Rag

A joyful Sunday morning church, a scattering of kids
And a warden came to me and said "this place is on the skids
There was four times this attendance back in 1984
and you've failed to bring the numbers back to where they were before.
This modern language book you use is losing people too -
everybody was much happier with 1662."
But his wife said...
"The Sunday you're remembering was in 1989 
'twas when Old Father Pipkins had announced that he'd resign
and all the village gossips came to hear what he would say
about why Mrs Jones was in the vicarage each day?
The Sunday Mail reporter, hearing nothing, was bereft
so he interviewed the organist, made an excuse, and left."
She went on... 
"And even back in those days, Pipkins used the ASB - 
apart from the Lord's Prayer you wouldn't hear a "thou" or "thee"
and that was when the Hendersons had all their family back
and their children were so many that you'd think they were Von Trapps.
But you're right there was so many there - the place was rather full
Do we understand the reasons why the church has lost its pull?

"So do you know the Johnson clan? That family was so quiet
till the little one got rowdy once - you said it was a riot.
Because he'd pushed a hymn book off the pew right next to you
You turned and stared - and he was scared - let's face it, he was two.
So these days they don't bother - they just get some extra bed."
"They could decide to come along, and leave the kids, instead."

The warden wasn't finished yet - he pointed to the pew
Where Mrs Gray (ex chorister) has sat since '92.
"The music's nothing like it was since we lost a proper choir.
 Your happy-clappy singing hasn't set the world on fire."
His wife said "yes, the choir wouldn't sing Shine Jesus Shine.
 Yet the school kids when they come here think that song is really fine."
"And the choir," she continued, "they all walked out over robes.
because of the obsession of the Reverend Father Strobes
who said they couldn't wear red as we aren't a royal foundation  
(he forgot the  Grant from Peada, of the Middle-Angle nation)
The tenors said that green robes didn't compliment their eyes
and so they left the church that day and worshipped at St Ive's.

"And don't forget the ones who've not come back since 2020.
the ones who say they fear the plague, and claim they're blessed with plenty
by watching Facebook every week - they say they're staying in
though I suspect that they're in 'Spoons, for breakfast and a gin.
And then there are the ones who dare not go out for their fear
but the visitor they do let in - is the young vicar, here."

And so the Warden shuffled out, crestfallen and ashamed
And I felt a certain triumph - for 'twas me that he had blamed
And I went into the Vestry and took out the service book
and entered "twenty-five": and yet I had to have a look
At the year of 1996 when Strobes - so fine and clever
Had writ - it turns out - "twenty-four" - and no doubt blamed the weather.

1 comment :

  1. Truth! (Although now I'm old I find I do rather yearn for 1662 and the good old English Hymnal...)


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