Friday, June 23, 2006

A curious drinking song for your weekend

Here's something light for a Friday. Those of you who have read Belloc's The Four Men should recognise it easily, and those of you who have not should go out and read Belloc's The Four Men. What the song lacks in historical and theological accuracy it makes up for with singability and bewilderment.
Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men's Backs and the very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual

Pelagius lived in Kardanoel,
And taught a doctrine there,
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How, whether you found eternal joy
Or sunk forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own concern.

Oh, he didn't believe in Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began with the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!

(With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at original sin!)

Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre
(Germanus was his name),
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And he called Pelagius Shame:
And then with his stout Episcopal Staff
So thoroughly thwacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
They rather had been hanged.

Oh, he thwacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong,
Their orthodox persuasions!

(With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Their orthodox persua-a-a-sions!)

Now the Faith is old and the Devil is bold,
Exceedingly bold indeed;
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh - let us put it away to infallible truth,
Which always shall prevail!

And thank the Lord for the temporal sword,
And howling heretics too;
And whatever good things our Christendom brings,
But especially barley brew!

(With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Especially barley brew!)
So, see if you can't drown out the TV at the bar with this one tonight. Far from simply being a pleasant thing to do, you will give the other patrons something they will remember for the rest of their lives, for good or ill.


Yvette said...

This is just great! Along with A. E. Housman's "A Shropshire Lad, Terence, this is stupid stuff" (I believe it's called), I'll have to add this to my list of favorite beer poems.

Anonymous said...

One of my favourites is the old Latin drinking song our professor taught us at college: Gaudeamus Igitur. I still occasionally burst out in alma mater while lifting a class of suds with my friends.


Dr. Mabuse said...

The English are so good at these boozy songs and poems; you can tell they really draws on something deep and true in their natures. I remember a competition in 'The Spectator', where contestants had to write a poem based on the first line: "Don't tell my father I breakfast on gin..." All the candidates were brilliant, but the prizewinner was so good I actually memorized it:

Don't tell my father I breakfast on gin;
It's a terrible fault in a monk.
In other respects I'm not troubled by sin,
It's just getting out of my bunk
That causes my knees to go wobbly and weak,
My whole moral fibre to fail;
Til I've had a small swig to restore my physique,
And my mental control, which is frail.

I pray in the chapel from Matins to Lauds,
Then work in the kitchen to Prime;
Then I garden til Terce - I'm not one of those frauds
Who's half-asleep most of the time.
I supervise novices nightly til Sext,
Then, drawing on self-discipline,
Illuminate Bead's or Erasmus's texts--
But I cannot get up without gin.

(Thanks to that anonymous poet of long ago!)

Nancy C. Brown said...

Will you believe that Nathan Allen sang this at the Chesterton conference? I heard it live, and it was wonderfully silly out loud!

Nick Milne said...

Nancy, of course I will believe you. To believe otherwise would be to call you a liar.

I wish I could have seen that, of course, but this is essentially my refrain when informed of literally anything that took place at that conference. There will come a year when I will make it, and the very world will tremble.