This is me, Eccles

This is me, Eccles
This is me, Eccles

Thursday, 18 January 2018

I'll be the Eminence Grey, sir!

To celebrate Cardinal Vincent Nichols's recent complete and utter silence on moral issues such as abortion, and his new support of the dissident organization Quest, we have rewritten a classic song in his honour.

Any resemblance between the following song and the "Vicar of Bray" (words and historical background here, and a sung version here) is purely deliberate.

In good Pope Pius' golden days,
When I was just a laddie,
I knew that if I wanted power,
I'd have to be a traddy.
At football matches I wore red,
Dressed in the finest satin.
In Liverpool they speak broad Scouse,
But I spoke classic Latin.

And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my dying day, Sir.
That whatsoever Pope may reign,
I'll be the Eminence Grey*, Sir!

*Eminence Grise, a person of great power.

Pius XII

"That kid's up to no good."

When John the saintly came to rule
And called a great assembly,
I really thought "Oh, this is dull,
I'd rather be at Wembley!"
The Council's rush for drastic change
I could not but acknowledge,
So feeling "cool" and "modern", I
Went to the English College.

And this is law...

When Paul the Sixth possessed the throne
Amidst reforms spectacular
I dropped my Latin, and soon learnt
To pray in the vernacular.
And as the liberals seized the church
I grew each day much bolder.
I got ordained and offered Mass
With God behind my shoulder.

And this is law...

John XXIII and Paul VI

"Watch out, that young chap is up to no good."

John Paul the first did not stay long
But soon we got the Second:
Quite orthodox was I just then
And soon preferment beckoned.
From Westminster (auxiliary)
To Birmingham translated -
As Archbishop, I knew that now
For greatness I was slated.

And this is law...

When Benedict became the Pope,
He thought I was inspiring,
To Westminster he sent me then
Since Cormac was retiring.
Summ-or-um Pont-i-fic-um now
Meant Us-us An-ti-qui-or.
It caused most liberals, like me
Despair, regret and fear.

But this is law...

John-Paul II and Benedict XVI

"Watch out, he's up to no good."

At last they drove old Ben away.
Pope Francis came, and said that
To mark the year of Mersey, now
I'd get my longed-for red hat.
I praised the clarity and style
Of good Pope Francis' preaching,
Though soon the outraged world found out
He'd dropped all ancient teaching.

And this is law...

Pope Francis and Vincent Nichols

Any time you feel like retiring...

So now I have run through the list
Of popes I've had to follow,
And if I don't become the next,
Then life will seem quite hollow.
For Quest and ACTA I support,
I let "gay" masses flourish,
And this is what you'll get from me
When e'er Pope Francis perish.

Still, this is law, I will maintain
Unto my dying day, Sir.
That whatsoever Pope may reign,
I'll be the Eminence Grey, Sir!


  1. Just brilliant Eccles. I envy your poetic skills. You certainly have transformed "The Vicar of Bray" in such a way that I'll have trouble now remembering the original.

  2. looking forward to reading this later. How do you do this?

  3. Bravo!! In these terrible times that will only get worse to laugh and pray is our only medicine. I will pray you keep your fine sense of humour and the ridiculous so that we can all keep laughing.

  4. It’s a conga line of fools and pseudo-saints (except for Pius XII).

  5. Is it really REALLY bad that I envy your linguistic skills just a tiny bit? This was so much fun to read. No one can say that about this same story related elsewhere, I imagine...