Monday, 13 September 2010

Mrs. Miniver (1)

Is my good memory a blessing or not?  I am never sure.   

What I know is this: that most mornings I awake with the words of a song, hymn, or gospel chorus racing through my mind.  Whatever the music is it remains with me throughout my early morning 2 mile walk with Penne.  

A couple of days ago I was “stuck” on a hymn we were made to sing in the “Christian” assembly which was mandatory in the British schools of my youth (1949- 1965).  I cannot even begin to imagine why this hymn came back to me.

Here are the words:

When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold;
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land.

No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
'Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free, with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness the power of the truth.

Of course the text is dreadful.  I think that I knew that even as I was “made” to sing it. 

It is dreadful, for various reasons.

1.      The text has next to no congruence with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
2.      It romanticises “knighthood” in an un-historic fashion.
3.      It is a “boy hymn”, and has no relevance for girls and women.
4.      It has no “points of reference” for working class/blue collar boys.

No wonder that Christian prayer as mandated in Council Schools (U.K.)/ Public Schools (U.S.A.) is such a silly idea.

“Enforced prayer” is always febrile prayer.

“When a Knight won his spurs” was written by “Jan Struther” a pen name for Joyce Anstruther.  She is more widely known as the author of the London Times series “Mrs. Miniver”, later made into a well loved movie. 


I’ll write tomorrow about another of her dreadful texts which we sang in school, and on Wednesday about one of her better works).

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