Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Denied a mobile I deconstruct

Driving away from the toils of the garden centre I look for catharsis and find it in the deconstruction of hymn libretti. Here’s: Oh God Our Help in Ages Past, verse four.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night,
Before the rising sun.


The urge to embellish meaninglessly; the second simile evokes a shorter period of time than the first. So why bother with the first?

Eternal Father Strong to Save (ie, For Those in Peril on the Sea) contains a bit of the Town and Country Planning Act:

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep.


Amazing! The sea apparently defined its own boundaries. And, alas, the bidding didn’t work. Yet as I sing the hymn my throat contracts with emotion; this is a noble tune, I’ll reserve my banderilla for something else.

My final example requires no deconstruction or, for that matter, any further comment:

A message came to a maiden young;
The angel stood beside her,
In shining robes and with golden tongue,
He told her what would betide her.


By now the car is in my own driveway and catharsis is complete. I have passed into the state that follows: the exact word escapes me but it is characterised by a desire to post.

10 comments:

The Crow said...

I first heard Eternal Father Strong to Save when I was in boot camp at Bainbridge, Maryland.

Caused my throat to constrict, too. A beautiful hymn; thanks for the memory, BB.

Lucy said...

I always baulked at that attempt to define eternity in terms of something simply many times bigger, it still seeks to limit the limitless.

Your hymn on the annunciation is new to me,and... no, you're right, no comment does it justice. I liked the bit in another on the same subject, about 'his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame', but find it very difficult not to assume it's about a highly flavoured lady called Gloria.

FigMince said...

Back in my advertising days, we had a phrase relating to meaningless feel-good TV ads relying on jingles:

'If you can't sell it, sing it.'

Rouchswalwe said...

Yes. Post. Create. Drink an ale!

Plutarch said...

Worthy of note is that it was a garden centre that provoked the hymns.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: It is of course the tune. It had never caused constriction before and hearing my own voice singing anything should hardly be the source of emotional turbulence. But it happened.

Lucy: Oh dear Lucy (I'm taking a leaf out of Rouchswalwe's book) let me warm my hands at your intellectual furnace. Who else among all my acquaintances would have known that that was an annunciation hymn? And of course you aren't limited to liturgy and hymnology, you cover the waterfront. I bow the knee since I fear I cheated. I don't know the third example at all. I just needed something terrible to finish off the post and, back in my atelier, I opened up Songs of Praise (never far away at any time). It was the only hymn listed under Annunciation. Verily, verily I say unto thee...

FigMince: The way they lodge ineradicably in our memory. How about:

One-Thousand-And-One cleans a big, big carpet,
For less than half-a-crown.


The non-metric coinage shows how long that one has stayed with me.

RW (zS): Sounds like your equivalent of Holy Communion.

Plutarch: In Hereford there's a very successful soft-goods shop (it's expanded thrice to my knowledge) called Dunelm which the BBs seem fated to visit quite regularly. The moment I pass through the portals I'm immediately attacked by a fit of yawning. This phenomenon has now extended to garden centres. Surprisingly the scent there isn't vernal and/or springlike, it's fusty.

marja-leena said...

So, I have not been able to figure out if the garden experience was so awful that you needed catharsis, or so inspiring that you needed to be brought back down from the heavens gently with hymns.

Barrett Bonden said...

M-L: Garden centre not garden - the place where one goes to buy bedding plants, bark chips, multi-purpose compost, terracotta pots (which explode in the frost), trowels (that bend in Hereford's tightly packed earth), systemic weedkiller, bird feeders, remaindered coffee table books, spiky jungle growths which cannot abide the British winter, seeds claimed to turn into flowers, seeds claimed to turn into vegetables, knocked-down wheelbarrows (for one's son-in law's birthday), Hoselock fittings, leather gloves to protect against rose prickles, disassembled sheds. There, does that give you a flavour?

As to the second part of the question may I say that you've been looking at the wrong Works Well since 2008 if you don't know the answer.

Avus said...

I must remember to carry a copy of "Hymns A & M" net time Mrs Avus and I make a garden centre visit. Perhaps we could start an evangelical group, "choir amongst the compost"

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: To achieve true synchronicity it will have to be Songs of Praise. I cheated a little. The first two I sang in the car from memory, the third was the product of an intensive search of SoP to find a truly wretched bit of hymn-writing. Which you have to agree I did.