Saturday, 27 September 2014

Thoughts on Betjeman - recalling happier times

John Betjeman in a typical setting

I have recently remembered an old poem by John Betjeman, in which he reminisces about the glories, as he perceived them, of the Anglo-Catholic movement, presumably in the early 20th. Century. It is entitles 'Anglo-Catholic Congress Congresses'.

With a few changes of words, it would be very easy to adapt this poem to express how I guess many of the former TLM community of Blackfen feel, now that this Liturgy, and the social life that existed around it (good company and a cup of tea or a nice pint in the social club after Mass, children playing in the garden while their parents chatted, a chance for the P.P. to meet his flock...etc.), are no longer extant. I leave it to my readers to select the exact format of the rewording.

Interestingly, when I searched for the poem online, I noticed that the great Fr. Hunwicke had posted about it earlier in the year, and trust that he will not mind me cutting and pasting the text from his blog - thank you for saving me a lot of typing, Father.

We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
   Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
   And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
   With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;

We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
   On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
   A game of Grandmother's steps on the vicarage grass -
   "Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass."

We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
  When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
   The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
   And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?

Yet, under the Travers baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
   The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
   The bells and banners - those were the waking days
    When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.


2011 12 25_0029
Midnight Mass at Blackfen - Photo by Mulier Fortis
Just included this picture from The Hermeneutic of Continuity because it's delightful - I believe it's from a Family Day at Our Lady of the Rosary


1 comment:

  1. Magnificent.

    No further words are needed.

    Blackfen is the poorer.

    Our Lady of the Rosary, Pray for us.


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