Sunday, 30 August 2015

My least favourite hymn, and why

Years ago, I won a competition in the Guardian for writing an alternative, non-green version of We Plough  the Fields and Scatter. I won a Christmas pudding (which arrived in the post, rather flat. But it was a prize, and I quite like Christmas pudding in small doses).

 I always thought All Things Bright and Beautiful could benefit from similar treatment. I hate that hymn, not least because it's so selective. It only includes the nice things, and leaves out everything else. (People choose it for weddings, and we sing at quite a few weddings as we are both in the church choir, so I've had a lot of time to think about it.)  Here's what I mean:

But wait! Who made the cockroach?
The bugs that cause disease?
The locust and the clothes moth,
The house flies and the fleas?

All things base and horrible,
All slimy things that crawl.
All things bite- and stingable -
Well, someone made them all.

See?

14 comments:

  1. I'm the organist at the village church and it's also often chosen for funerals. I hate it too.

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  2. I used to deliberately mishear the third line as 'all things wild and wonderful', which is much better.

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  3. Now of course one could argue that horrible, just like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder. What makes us shudder with revulsion is a tasty meal for another animal, and so on.
    But I know that was not what you were on about.

    Can't say I have a least favourite hymn. I used to have a few favourites when I was still part of our church choir, but in the 30 years that have gone by since I stopped singing there, I have not had much to do with hymns, or thought about them.

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    1. Meike, you're right of course. One creatuure's "ugh!" is another's lunch, But not necessariy beautiful.

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  4. Excellent but I feel you miss the point of insects. Wasps help control aphids and children. Beetles and flies eat crap and without them we would be chest deep in the stuff.........Many insects are bright and beautiful.
    I agree it is a silly hymn..........It always reminds me of Mary Poppins.

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    1. Adrian, I know, I know I know. In fact, I nearly added a warning - "this post is not for Adrian". We need most of these things, but only to a select few are they bright and/or beautiful. However, don't forget, for example, the tubercle bacillus. which has been responsible for millions of human (and animal) deaths, and seems to serve no other purpose. I suppose I just think this is a particualry silly hymn. Another great wedding favourite is Jerusalem, a hymn which I don't even begin to understand.

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  5. I much prefer your two verses to the originals. All Things Bright and Beautiful - too sweet for me.

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    1. Me too, Lynne. Thanks for the endorsement!

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  6. John Betjamin's version of 'We plough the fields' was fun.

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    1. I dont' know that one, Cro, and sadly, I seem to have lost mine.

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  7. Actually I'm not convinced that someone did make them all. Perhaps, though, the point of the hymn was to encourage little children to see beauty in everything.

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    1. What a lovely, kind man you are, Graham. A nice thought.

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