The Sacrifice of Song

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The Choir of St. John the Baptist, Devizes

sing Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral

4th January 2017

*

The Temple of St. Paul’s, at Evensong;

The voices of our little children ring

In tones divine, as through the ages long

Our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters sing

How lofty, lowly, wide, and deep, and high

The mystery, the magnitude, the sound

How thunderous, the whispered gilded sigh

Of doves that fall from dome to holy ground

On altar bright; what sacrifice is this

This mass of light, this sungen density

This quantum quality, this ancient bliss

That renders speechless such a man as me

I fall upon my knees upon the floor

Sing, children, songs as these, for evermore

*

© Gail Foster 6th January 2017

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Casting Stuff On the Waters

*

He cast a crouton on the water

Watched it sog upon the swell

What came back was lava bread

And Chelsea buns as well

She threw in an expensive cake

‘Twas softer than a futon

But what came back upon the waves

Was just a soggy crouton

© Gail Foster 2016

The Publican and the Pharisee

 

*

The Publican and the Pharisee went for a walk after church

One wore pride and majesty, the other the marks of the birch

“I say, my man,” said the Pharisee, “will you tell if I come to your inn?”

“My lips are sealed,” said the Publican “let us sup of the wine of your sin”

The Publican and the Pharisee quaffed back a couple of jars

And then another two, then three, for such is the way in bars

And as they drank their wine, an odd phenomenon occurred

The crown of hubris lost its shine, the marks of the birch became blurred

“I say, my man,” said the Pharisee, “I’m feeling a little queer”

The Publican chuckled, mischievously, “Time for some shorts, and some beer”

The Pharisee, unused to drink, began to loose a screw

Became dishevelled, sweaty, pink, made a desperate run for the loo

Got locked in for a while, and had to crawl under the door

Got stuck, well hey, you have to smile, for half an hour or more

Was rescued by some rugby blokes, who loaned him some spare kit

And made up lots of witty jokes, about Pharisees covered in it

The Publican, sat at the bar, surveyed his sorry state

He wondered if he’d gone too far, in setting up his mate

“Just sit,” he said, “and listen well, for this I have to say

If I am surely bound for hell I’ll meet you on the way

You are no better, Sir, than I, no better, and no worse

Your spiritual wealth is an arrogant lie, and your pride is a cardinal curse

I’m no angel, I confess, but hypocrisy, mate, I abhor

I reckon I should grovel less, and you just a little bit more”

The Pharisee gave a little nod, and hiccupped in assent

Muttered softly “Sorry God”, and got his coat and went

The Publican then rang the bell, poured out a short, and sat

“Oh come on, God, you know the bloke, he really asked for that”

*

© Gail Foster 2016

Granny’s Easter Buns

Jenny's Hot Cross buns

*

Grandad says that Easter isn’t funny

You won’t find him at parties

Dressed up as the Easter bunny

He’ll not be scoffing chocolate eggs

Or anything like that

He’ll be putting on his Sunday best

And dusting off his hat

For Grandad is an Anglican

Of serious intent

Does bible study when he can

And gave up cake for Lent

He says that Jesus died for me

And I’d best not forget it

But seeing as I’m only three

I’m sorry, I don’t get it

My Granny, now my Granny, mind

She has a different view

She leaves me little eggs to find

In places like my shoe

The smell of Granny’s hot cross buns

Is paradise and bliss

She makes me little special ones

Topped with a tiny kiss

Granny says God loves me

As she makes my Easter bonnet

With a smile as she carefully

Sews flowers and bees upon it

Let Grandad do religious stuff

The crucifixion thing

I’m only really old enough

For Granny, and the Spring

Grandad’s back from church now

Saying “Jesus rose for you”

“Well, bless us all” my Granny says

“The buns are risen too”

*

by Gail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Well, Welby

Well, well, Welby

Beg your pardon

He’s got three Poles

At the bottom of his garden*

And joining in with daily prayers

Some Syrians beneath the stairs

Asylum seekers in his shed

And Communists

Beneath his bed

 

He’s just doing what he can

To pander to the ‘common’ man

To separate the issues, see

Of race and the economy

With good intent to bridge the gap

‘Twixt logic and the racist cr*p

For Welby is a diplomat

Just in case, and just like that

 

It’s not that we’re a racist state

Good luck with that one, Welby, mate

Imagine pubs across the land

The dodgy banter, beer in hand

That Archbishop got it right

We’re all white mate, we’re all white

Share our wealth with all the planet?

Outrageous! (outraged Bob from Thanet)

 

But what of all the fish and bread

With which five thousand mouths were fed

Would Jesus Christ have found it hard

To put up Poles in his back yard?

 

by Gail

 

* A play on the words of an English joke, “Well, well, well, three holes in the garden!”

The Curious Offering of the Sacristan

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*

The curious offerings of sacristans

Are given in obscure humility

The symbol of the cupping of the hands

Enshrines the essence of this mystery

The dawn unlocked; the turning of a key

The mystic world behind the little door

The mourning weepers, watching, silently

The quiet foot upon uneven floor

The layered shadowed centuries; the pass

Of long dead worshippers before the throne

Slow shifts of coloured pools of stains of glass

Soft drift of latticed light on pillar stone

The empty candle, thirsting for new oil

Unscrewed and filled, screwed up again and lit

The hidden corners, carved by masons’ toil

In which a wary flickered flame may flit

The covering, uncovering; each fold

Of linen and of altar cloth an art

Within the starch of white, on marble cold

The space to hold His living, beating heart

Here, understated wafers wait in line

For blessing, as an unblessed congregation

Here silver, water, light, and red wine shine

Anticipating sacred consecration

Here eye, and hand, and mind, seek symmetry

In objects placed, in psychic ebbs and flows

Seek that perfection only God can see

In right angle and scented mystic rose

When all are done and gone, her hands will shake

The fragments of His flesh on holy ground

Shed drops upon the earth its thirst to slake

Pour water through the light without a sound

When all are gone, all blessed with wine and bread

There, in the East, where better men have trod

She kneels and presses to the step her head

And, lost in awe, she speaks these words to God

I am that ancient soul you always knew

A part of you, from when time first began

The I am that I am, the that in you

That serves thee, as I will, while still I can

I come to you as Christian, Muslim, Jew

Agnostic, Gnostic, Druid, Angel, Man

In the cupping of my hands I give to you

The curious offering of the sacristan

© Gail Foster 2016

*

This poem has been chosen as Poem of the Month at Sherborne Abbey

I’m thrilled

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darkness Becoming Visible; November

St. Mary's

*

For the congregations of St. John’s and St. Mary’s, Devizes

*

Within a pumpkin’s hollow is a candle burning bright

We have prayed the dead to silence, we have sent them to the light

Bring in dark November, let the winter cold begin

Stick the heating on and let the Saints come marching in

There will be icy dawns and fireworks, dank leaves and naked trees

We shall wish for Christmas jumpers to protect against the freeze

Is it colder now than last year?  Oh, where did the year go

By the time we’ve got a grip we will be sliding in the snow

We will remember that November gives birth to the Advent season

And that once the knives were out for Fawkes for gunpowder and treason

We shall wish for bonfires high enough to chase the night away

As we watch the winter shadows fill the corners of the day

We have been tricked, we have been cheated; now it’s all downhill from here

Until we come to rest, at Christmas, when a new light will appear

*

by Gail