As we rehearsed O God Of Earth And Altar this morning at St. Clement Danes it was clear that the choir were really enjoying themselves, and not only because of the Purcellian bent of the music.  Chesterton’s text, which I had chosen originally to illustrate entirely different thoughts, was proving to be oh so appropriate for the mess in which we currently find ourselves.  I present Exhibit A:

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

Chesterton himself wrote it with other ideas in mind, but, my word, how apt it is for these distracted and totally shambolic times.

We also ran through the Te Deum, which was well received, and it seems that both pieces went down well with performers and congregation alike, the general consensus being that they were gritty but not forbidding, a combination I like.  It was also an immense pleasure after the service to bump into somebody I used to know from Magdalen all those years ago, now all growed up and a barrister (not a barista) with two young children, but who still apparently owns some of the posters of my band from those days, the legendary and rightly feared Chainsäw.  It is good to know that that memories of the band live on, despite its members now doing (slightly) more serious things, and that, after over twenty years, I am still recognisable from way back then.  Still writing music and still in a band, too…

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