Monday, October 10, 2016

"Words we can mean"

Anecdotal Evidence quoted several lines from the poem below and so I went in search for all of it. The issue was whether Parliament should act to "modernize" Cranmer's language in the Book of Common Prayer:
When the C of E was debating the Series 3 liturgy back in the late 1970s, a Canon Brown in Devizes wrote to the Guardian saying that the matter should be left to the Church. The scholarly and multilingual poet Charles Sisson wrote this poem and traveled to Wiltshire and pinned it to the door of Canon Brown's church.

The organist spoiled the Luther-like gesture by taking the paper down....
For Canon Brown, Who Likes Contemporary Speech

Do not imagine, Canon Brown,
That when the chips are really down
It will be folk like you who speak
So plain, while we are sham antique.
Do you know, arrogant old fool,
(That's modern, mate, so keep your cool)
It is you who are antiquarian
And we who think that san ne fairy-ann
Whether the words are old or new
But only, what work can they do?
What work can you do, idle lump?
While you defile the parish pump
Some of us like our water clean
And like to use words we can mean.
And so did Cranmer, who had to cook
For standing by his common book.
Write me a Book of Common Prayer
That is not made up of hot air
With words that are as plain as this
And, oh boy! that will take the piss
Out of those who wrote Series 3
And (I confess it) out of me.
C H Sisson

The Book of Common Prayer, 1549, The Church of England Book of Common Prayer

God as Author - Google Groups