Ode for Saint Faith`s

Chris Price

This poem was penned by me during 1987 as part of an appeal for funds to refurbish the church organ. The story told in the poem will be familiar to those who have read our history pages. Happily the appeal was a success and the church has been able to rejoice at the sound of a magnificent instrument played by our skilled organist Ged Callagher and his immediate predecessor George Gilford (listen to examples on our Sounds of Saint Faith`s Page

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Ode for Saint Faith`s

Carved out from older parishes around,
Who yielded it their dedicated ground,
See Douglas Horsfall`s firm-set building stand
Square on its patch of consecrated land.
Buttressed in brick, high-roofed, a ship at rest,
Anchored by faith, still steering to the west:
No lofty spire to point it to the sky,
But still a monument to passers-by.
To some a resting-place en route to Rome,
To most a bus-stop, and for us a home.
Verse 1
Built as a century drew to its close;
Built in thanksgiving and in hope by those
Who sought to witness to a church restored
To living witness of a living Lord;
Built when an ageing Queen still held her throne,
(Her name indelibly carved in its stone)
For Anglo-Catholics to uphold the cause,
Though irate Protestants besiege its doors.
Verse 2
Now history unfolds, the years roll on -
Clergy and people past have come and gone.
Ritual is shaped, tradition is laid down,
Though Rome be puzzled and Low Churchmen frown.
Let sober Mattins call from churches round:
Within these walls hear more exotic sound.
Lo, Popish Practices at every turn:
Vestments are worn, candles and incense burn.
Verse 3
A Christian family grows up in prayer;
Built round the sacraments, with love and care.
Time still moves on: beneath confirming hands
A future of Primate of All England stands.
A church embattled lives through two World Wars,
And still the faithful pass between its doors
To watch, from stronghold safe, the world without
Wrapped in indifference, mistrust and doubt;
Until the tide of faith begins to turn,
And Ecumenical`s the word to learn.
With liturgy reshaped and worship shared,
Slowly the wounds are healed, the breach repaired.
Verse 4
Altars are moved, pews lifted and replaced,
With trendy services for every taste,
To Family Worship now St Faith`s bell calls,
And Series Three is heard within these walls,
Until the eighties dawn and lo! we see
The Revelation of the A.S.B.
Verse 5
Through years of worship and unceasing praise
The voice of Music has been strong to raise
In choir and chancel sweetly singing round
Its well-tuned harmony and goodly sound.
Successive organists, enthroned on high,
Have set the echoes ringing to the sky;
While white-robed cherubs chanting in the stalls
Antiphonally echoed from these walls.
Until, in quality and numbers grown,
Our choir`s achievements are more widely known,
And, called to service by the BBC,
They find themselves on radio and TV.
Verse 6
Yet see! Dark clouds on the horizon loom:
Organic Experts speak in voice of doom.
Through pipes and bellows hear the message steal:
We need a costly Organ Fund Appeal!
The need is urgent, and the problem grave,
Lest pipes and all come crashing down the nave.
Repair! Electrify! Resite! Restore!
Raise money! Scrape the barrel! Now give more!
The funds roll in, yet much remains to do:
The organ's future rests, dear friends, with you.
Shall leather perish, outworn linkage fail?
Instead of harmony, discord prevail?
Must music's cause be pleaded here in vain,
Or shall our Instrument rise up again?
Verse 7
No Betjeman frames this appeal in verse:
A humble Warden bids you ope your purse.
Let not the ravages of Time decay;
Help save our noble organ while we may;
That God's great Music may sound out above,
To lead our worship in the Church we love.
Verse 8

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