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On Saturday, we went to a fête in a little church just outside Rye. At 500 years old, it’s one of the youngest Churches of Romney Marsh, but it’s more or less what it was when it was built — no electricity or running water, just a brick box in the middle of nowhere with a steeple.

These guys were the entertainment. They research local (Kent and Sussex) church music of the Georgian period, and then they perform it. Really well. In appropriate costume.

I’ve been to my fair share of Civil War re-enactments (I dated a gunsmith in High School), but this was altogether different. They were in the right place, doing the right things, totally looking perfect. It was eerie to witness, I tell you.

I held off posting this because I was hoping to find a recording of one particular song they did. It was a Primitive Methodist thing, which is like proto-evangelicals. It was a jaunty, happy, cheerful tune.

No, seriously, the melody was super upbeat.

And the lyrics were all smashing you up with iron bars and dragging you to the lake of fire where your eyeballs melt and run down your face in God’s thirsty scarlet vengeance of SCARY DOOM. I can’t find a recording, but I’m pretty sure this is the hymn.

All I could think of was Brave Sir Robin.


Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: July 6, 2011, 9:56 pm

I love people who reenact the past. I like even better that you can go back to the comforts of the 21st century when you’re done playing.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: July 6, 2011, 10:19 pm

Ah, but like all good puritan works, it ends with hope: repent and be saved. I’ll take that over “Jesus Is My Boyfriend” or “I Will Praise Some Unnamed Higher Power For No Apparent Reason” songs we get these days.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 7, 2011, 2:08 am

Madame Stoaty,

I shall see your Brave Sir Robin and raise you a Hymn 258

The scene takes place in a Britisher shrine where the natives wear costumes and engage in captivating foreplay displays.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 7, 2011, 2:24 am

Religious songs are great to know and possibly the bestish metronome if you are carrying +80# on your back in remote rural areas for longer than you ordinarily would. *)
Kate Smith’s version is a classic and I will hear no ill spoken of it, but the song truly has gotten new wings after Dan Barker re-wrote the libretto. I only remember one stanza:

God-less America
Land that we love.
Standing by her, we’ll guide her
Living life without help from above
Free from bible superstitions
Free from masters on their throne.
God-less America,
My mind’s my own,
God-less America,
My home sweet home.

* – Horst Wessel Lied works great for those so inclined.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 7, 2011, 2:33 am

Since this is oldey sheep fancier blogue from Britannic Isles, how about some Germa… I mean English, English Hof-Komponist:

Messiah, an Oratorio (HWV 56)
Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford
Isaiah 53:6 “All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”


Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 7, 2011, 2:57 am

Bloody hell. My apologies for ripple posting, here is the proper link for Hymn 258.

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: July 7, 2011, 3:02 am

Out of the Protestant Reformation, in particular the Anabaptist and Puritan movements that eschew the liturgy and apostolic succession, have arisen splinter groups like Fred Phelps and his extremist, anti-gay groups.

Calvinist doctrine, IMHO, turns its heart and mind away from the Gospel’s proclamation that Christ lived and worked and chose the low life sinners, poor fishermen, prostitutes, tax collectors, rebel heretics of the day…to speak His words of repentance, reconciliation and redemption. AND he did it not by pointing a bony finger of condemnation…but by lovingly calling his lost brothers and sisters to choose to change, choose to seek the Father through His guidance. He called them, just as He calls us, to follow Him, not some sweaty, guilt ridden, bible pounding wingnut….


I’ll push the soapbox back in the corner.

As Sporadic Small Arms Fire shared, perhaps unwittingly from Isaiah 53:6 “All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

It ain’t Fred Phelps or some specific ideology or theology that saves us. It is Christ’s sacrifice alone and our individual relationship with that resurrected God-made-man that opens the way to salvation.

We are all junkies and addicts to something.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: July 7, 2011, 3:19 am

We are all junkies and addicts to something


But seriously, I agree with your general point.

I like the older hymns myself. I find most of the “praise & worship” songs to be quite creepy, especially when people sway back and forth and act like they’re entranced. It reminds me of the Georgie-Porgie scene in Brave New World.

Glad you enjoyed the experience, sweas…it does sound interesting. I’d like to see it myself.

Comment from Sporadic Small Arms Fire
Time: July 7, 2011, 3:28 am

Just like one cannot be sure whether the direct message from god is not actually a slick catchy marketing ploy from Prince of Darkness (who does not even get to write his own book), I would not be so quick to discount Phred Phelps. His invisible boss has, after all, a very well established record of statements, actions and incitements that in today’s polite wussified societies would get you rather unpopular mighty quick.

But back on the topic, I enjoy and am very indebted to selfless reporters like our kindest hostess for the snapshots of archaic ways of our cousins, safely separated from mainland by cold briney deeps and shallow creditworthiness.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: July 7, 2011, 5:04 am

Being a Calvinist I should note here that if you think Catholics get a lot of mistaken, misunderstanding bad press and impressions try being a Calvinist some time 🙂

Comment from Matt P
Time: July 7, 2011, 12:31 pm

You can hear the tune here:


as an aside, that hymn is written by John Newton, the same guy who wrote Amazing Grace and who was an ex-slave trader. Its not hard to believe that his own guilt played a part in the extreme language of the hymn, i.e. “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me….”

So Christopher let me ask you, do Calvinists take free will offerings?

Comment from Matt P
Time: July 7, 2011, 12:45 pm


Interesting thing about the tune (warning voice) its in a meter that’s kind of odd whereas Amazing Grace is in common meter so you can sing it to many tunes (The Gilligan’s Island Theme Song, House of the Rising Sun, even part of the Violent Femmes song Blister in the Sun to name just a few of my favorites).

My guess is that Newton really wanted that song sung to that tune, perhaps he was trying to place the song’s themes in terms of the hope of salvation rather than the assuredness of damnation.

John Wesley (the father of Methodism) believed that one should preach to the unconverted to convict them and to the converted to comfort them. Newton may be preaching to the unconverted with the words and to the converted with the tune. Just a thought, or perhaps too much thought.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: July 7, 2011, 5:42 pm

Forgive the hollow laugher at being sniped at over credit worthiness by a victim of ol’ jugears and that Bernanke idiot.

Comment from xul
Time: July 7, 2011, 6:05 pm

As far as cautionary tunes are concerned, I quite like “Hell” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Comment from Bob Mulroy
Time: July 7, 2011, 6:19 pm

Y’know what’s freaky? The artwork on the back of the Jehova’s Witnesses’ “Watchtower” magazine!

The mountains are crumbling, oceans are turning to blood, and there’s this muti-ethnic group of people just smiling away.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 7, 2011, 10:00 pm

On a less religious note:
Texas is going to kill a deathrow inmate tonight. I win the death pool!

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: July 7, 2011, 10:09 pm

They hire some good illustrators on that Watchtower magazine, Bob. Creepy, but talented.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: July 7, 2011, 10:12 pm

Are you SURE, EZnSF? Mr. Leal is a Preferred Species, so it’s quite possible that AG Holder will have his FBI flunkies take a break from running guns to Mexican and Honduran drug dealers long enough to raid the prison and free the “victims”…

Comment from Oldcat
Time: July 8, 2011, 12:09 am

Christopher Taylor wrote:

Being a Calvinist I should note here that if you think Catholics get a lot of mistaken, misunderstanding bad press and impressions try being a Calvinist some time 🙂

Maybe, but since they weren’t predestined to have the bad press Catholics can still complain about it.

Comment from EZnSF
Time: July 8, 2011, 2:23 am

@ Mark

I was going to say ‘Mexican’ instead of ‘death-row inmate’, but that’s racist.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: July 8, 2011, 11:55 am

Heh. I see that Texas and Governor Perry are NOT politically correct. At least in THIS case…

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