D: Hey, it's not "Your Majesty!" Call me Dave.
"Dave," working on a psalm.
E: Yes, OK, Dave. Now I know you've had some embarrassing moments in your time, especially when Signor Michelangelo of the Italian paparazzi published a nude sculpture of you, but let's put that to one side now, and talk about your psalms.
D: Well, one likes to think one has a role as a Defender of Faiths, you know, and my psalms do seem to have gone down well with many in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
E: Still, they obviously need a little "refreshing" for modern audiences, and so that's why you're here today, I understand.
D: Yes, I was wondering about my Psalm 23 (as translated by King James himself): The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. Can you suggest something, Eccles?
A sheep, being sickeningly sweet.
E: Well, my general rule for modern hymns is, don't say too much about God, it's better to sing about yourself. And we could perhaps adapt the tune of "On Ilkla Moor Baht 'at," as Ilkley's a good place for sheep, I'm told.
The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep: I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa." The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep, The Lord's my shepherd, I'm a sheep. Chorus: I like to go "Baa Baa!" I like to go "Baa Baa!" I like to go "Baa Baa!"
This sheep isn't as sweet, but he is on Ilkley Moor.
D: So how do you see the subsequent verses developing?
E: Well, as any modern hymn-writer will tell you, you only need to change one or two lines to get a completely new verse. So Verse 2 could be:
He makes me lie down in a field: I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa." He makes me lie down in a field, He makes me lie down in a field. Chorus. I like to go "Baa Baa!" (x3)D: My psalm is quite popular at funerals, you know, probably because of the lines: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Double-O-7, why have you brought me to the Valley of the Shadow of Death?
E: Well, Dave, have a go yourself.
When in the Valley of Death's Shade, I like to eat the grass and go "Baa Baa-aa." When in the Valley of Death's Shade, When in the Valley of Death's Shade, Chorus. I like to go "Baa Baa!" (x3)E: Magnificent, Dave! You've managed to drain out almost all the theology, and to leave just some comfortable stuff about sheep. Kevin Mayhew will be knocking at your door any time now, begging for the publishing rights.
You make a table for me, Lord...