This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Tuesday 25 December 2012

New Hymns 4

For today's master-class, we have invited the lovely Christina Rossetti here, so that we can discuss her carol In the Bleak Midwinter, and attempt to rewrite it for modern worship.

Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti, on learning that she needs to rewrite her hymn.

E: So, Miss Rossetti, there are a few problems with this hymn. The first verse, for example, is probably not historically correct: Christ was almost certainly not born in midwinter, and the weather was mild enough for shepherds to abide in the fields all night.

C: O Eccles, you're not going to make me sacrifice such a poetic verse? I could rewrite it I suppose:

It was quite a nice day,
Not too hot or cold,
They had lovely weather
In the days of old.
E: Yes, it's a pity we couldn't have kept the "frosty wind made moan" bit, and all joined in with a chorus of "Moan moan moan," but historical accuracy is more important. Perhaps you could make the song a bit more dramatic?

C: I thought of continuing:

Rain had fallen, rain on rain,
Rain on rain,
But the shepherd's clothes were
Drying out again.
washing line

It's a man's life in the sheep-farming industry.

E: Yes, that's fine. Now you have several verses about mangers, oxen, asses, even camels...

C: Camels are not really midwinter animals, I know. I thought of making them yetis instead. Are yetis Biblical? I suppose not.


A yeti reacts angrily to being told that it is not Biblical.

E: Well, we've got rid of the midwinter theme, anyway. Let's move on to the last verse, which is all about giving Christmas presents.

C: "If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb."

E: Yes, and "If I were a wise man, I would do my part." What is this mysterious "part?"

C: I was stuck for a rhyme for "heart," there, Eccles.

E: Now, it's good that the last verse is about us - that's the guiding spirit behind modern hymns - so let's see if we can make it even more egotistical, with a verse about Christmas shopping.

C: I have it:

I've been Christmas shopping, poor as I am:
For my auntie Jane, a year's supply of spam.

rhubarb tart

For my uncle Fred, a tasty rhubarb tart...

Damien Hirst shark

And for dear old Gran a piece of modern art.

E: Christina Rossetti, thank you very much. They'll be singing this version in all the churches this Christmas, I have no doubt about it.

Earlier masterclasses: John Henry Newman    King David    Charles Wesley


  1. Poor Christina. No comments yet. Your namesake on the DT had the same problem till recently when she did a post on the Dawkins, and got over 2500 comments.

    Perhaps your next hymn could reflect the atheist viewpoint?
    I'm thinking something along the lines of Goblin Market, but with priests instead of goblins.

    1. She's a luvvly lady, but a bit too high-brow for some tastes. Gettin more hits with Dawkins and Dr Who right now.

      It's true we aint had any good athiest hymns yet...

  2. The Marsellaise and The Internationale come pretty close, but they are foreign. Nothing home grown yet. hmm. I suppose you could have
    All things Bright and beautiful
    All creatures great and small
    All things wise and wonderful
    Mutation made them all.