South Park Self

may their seed-time past be yielding year by year a richer store

I woke up this morning with, for no adequately defined reason, a hymn on my brain. Not any hymn, but specifically "Lord Dismiss Us With Thy Blessing", the hymn of choice for the last day of term at all of my junior schools and at least one of my senior schools. (As far as I remember the government school I attended for my first two years of high school didn't do hymns in assembly, but my subsequent private school sure as hell did, I used to play the piano for them. Badly. Because I never practised enough).

"Lord Dismiss Us" is, of course, not only fairly ridiculously thundering and catchy, it's also the hymn most likely to be lustily belted out by the assembled scholars, with the fine, careless rapture and considerable verve that only the approaching holidays can bring. (The term-starting version, "Lord Behold Us", is always a comparatively pale, limp and spiritless thing). I seem to remember my junior school headmaster, Mr. Horsefall, particularly liking "Lord Dismiss Us", which would figure as he was also the teacher who took our music sessions, and he pounded out songs on the piano with maximum volume and élan and absolutely no delicacy of touch at all, with the net result that I distinctly remember him breaking a piano string by thumping, twang in the middle of the chorus of "The Hippopotamus Song". (Although, to be fair, if ever a song was an invitation to thump, "The Hippopotamus Song", with its wonderful waltz-time chorus, is it). And, of course, hymns in general are bloody good fun both to sing and to play; their characteristic chord progressions, arrangements and cadences are enormously satisfying on some fairly profound and slightly simplistic level. Singing old-fashioned hymns is absolutely the only thing I ever enjoy about being in a church.

But have you ever looked at the words for "Lord Dismiss Us"? It seems to have been written by a staunch Victorian, Henry James Buckoll, in 1843. Henry James Buckoll was apparently an assistant master at Rugby, and clearly an embittered ironist, driven to ruthlessly pillory the horrors of life with children. "Pardon all, their faults confessing, time that's lost may all retrieve?" The dear little kiddies have clearly spent the whole term driving him up the wall, in frivolous pursuit of faults rather than learning. "May thy children ne'er again thy Spirit grieve"? "May all taint of evil perish"? They've been really bad. God is sad at them. And "help us selfish lures to flee"? The writer holds out very little hope for the holidays, which will clearly be given over to hedonistic vice. When he asks "sanctify our every pleasure; pure and blameless may it be" I don't think he's optimistic. The whole tone of the thing makes one see "all who here shall meet no more" in rather sinister terms, don't you think? Oh God, he's asking, let some of them be eaten by bears over the holidays.

I love the Victorians. So gloomy.

It occurs to me that the presence of this joyous little ditty in my cerebellum this particular morning is because the dear little gazelles have all just come back from the 10-day vac, which means today is the rude shock after a blissful week of empty campus. Clearly I'm wishing they'd all go away again, particularly since a major course drop deadline was on the Friday before the vac, and I can guarantee that I'll have a stream of them through my door being stunned and wounded because I can't bend the rules for them. At any rate, I shall pursue the rest of the day with the hymn resounding around my skull, and with any luck I've ear-wormed you lot properly as well. It's a small consolation.
  • Current Mood: amused amused, Victorian
  • Current Music: "Lord Dismiss Us" IN MY HEAD!
Aaaaaaaaaugh, earworm!

We had it at my school too. And now you have earwormed me with my school song, a cheery, bouncy monstrosity which I think was written sometime in the twenties.
Hee. School songs occupy a particular circle of the damned. My final high school one was "Fill the World with Love", which is distinguished by being both syrupy and cheesy, and was traditionally sung by a Form 1, a Form 3 and a Form 6 to represent the verses about the Morning, Noon and Evening verses. Bletch. Although, now I come to think of it, the school song for my Standard 3 school was rather lovely. And is not available on the internet anywhere. Maybe I dreamed it.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I've never heard of that hymn, so thanks for the education. All this talk of Victorian hymns and Rugby reminds me of John Charity Spring, the Latin-quoting brute from the Flashman books (Flash for Freedom, I think). Must go read them again.

Ps. Mr Horsefall? What a great name!
Re: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
It has a great tune, all stirring, like 'Onward Christian Soldiers" - see here. And, yes, Flashman, I should also dig up my collection. Have you ever read the absolutely mad and wonderful George Macdonald Fraser pirate pastiche? Called Pyrates, IIRC. Hilarious, and very, very rude about torrid romances.
Ah yes, I remember it well and yes, I suspect the enthusiasm with which we approached it was universal.
The one that particularly stuck2 me at hight school though was, "God of concrete, God of steel, which I remember going on about steam, and girders and atoms and how marvellous they all were.
Gracious, I'd completely forgotten about that one. Yes, amazing lyrics. All muscular and modernist and vaguely science-fictional, if not downright dystopian in vibe. Kind of the antithesis of "All things bright and beautiful"... The version I knew was also a rather weird and lovely tune, all atonal and minor.
Goodness me, I'd never seen that one, how lovely. Lord Dismiss Us is familar to me, although I don't connect it to gleeful holiday departure as others do. It's simply yet another hymn colouring my youth. My children are growing up without all this which is a bit odd, actally. I feel that the lack of Christian word and imagery being hammered into their heads leaves them culturally impoverished, yet morally and idealistically richer. I'll wait 20 (better make that 30) years and ask them what they think. Perhaps I'm making a huge mistake ...
I just accepted that my daughter would end up a religious, sporty accountant...out of sheer stubborn wilfulness with the aim of being "nothing like me"!
But turns out she is really good at piano—so there you go artistic but still completely unlike me ;-)
Lack of religion makes explaining death hard…we went through a rough fear of mortality thing when MMM was about 4 or 5…but an explanation about the “tiny bubbles” (atoms) that make all of us and then when we die being reused to make trees and flowers seemed to work.
I think some people just sort of have a brain that is easily infected with the religion mind-virus and other don’t. My parent were non-religious and always said religion was my choice—they didn’t stop me when I wanted to go to Sunday school…but didn't discourage it. They never presented an arguement for or against it. I guess I was inoculated by indifference, probably if they had forbid it I might have ended up ensconced.
If it makes you feel better about your girls...I don't feel like I lack anything...in fact I feel quite superior to my Catholic boyfriend. I feel like I make rational informed life choices, that I have a better connection and desire to know myself and am more personally responsible for my actions. Him not so much. “Global warming—god will fix it”…he nearly ended up wearing the cup of tea I was holding in my hand at the time!

PS I love cathedrals and relgious iconography but from a totally aesthetic POV.
I woke up with "The Safety Dance" in my head, so...no, I don't know how to make this relate.

My favorite hymn-type song is "We Three Kings," for this chorus:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes of life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb

That's my kinda Christmas!

Hugs, Dayle
It's clear that our respective subconciouses engage in random excavation of musical memories overnight. Probably in order to have dream-parties, in which case I have to say yours is far more interesting than mine. Who dream-parties to hymns?! "Safety Dance" is at least fun and catchy and memory-filled, and if it's any consolation is now firmly in my head.

I've also always liked that verse of "Kings". Probably my proto-Gothic urges :>.
Mud!
You've earwormed me with the Hippopotamus song :). I don't remember singing any Victorian hymns in school, my primary school was Afrikaans (I still only know the Afrikaans version of "Ode to Joy") and my high school was not really that religious (we only sang the school song in assemblies).
Re: Mud!
There are far worse earworms. Honestly. I shouldn't have bloody posted about "Lord Dismiss Us", it re-earworms me every time I read a comment.
(Anonymous)
Lord Dismiss Us now battling it out in my head with The Wiggles. Will be interesting to see which earworm rules supreme.

(Interesting thing about the Wiggles as replayed in my head: earworming is total, near instant and relentless, but undifferentiated. Songs flow together seamlessly in constant loop, one lyric after another from totally different tracks. I wonder if Elfling experiences the same thing.)

scroob
The wiggles creep me out big time...they just look to much like kiddy fiddlers for my liking...expecially the one in red (he has a unfortunate leering loom that makes my skin crawl).

I got my daughter into "real music" through the Colours are Brighter...now her Ipod is filled with an age appropirate sampling of my music. At least if she puts her ipod on the dock I don't immediately have to writhe on the floor in emotional agony holding my ears ;-)