Taking the Kingdom by Song

singers



The General Dance

According to Reg Groves, this medieval Cornish carol was found by Robert Woodifield in a street market in 1916 and brought by him to Thaxted. Conrad Noel pinned it up inside the door of the church, where it was found and set to music by Gustav Holst (This have I done for my true love, Op 34, No. 1). Holst dedicated the piece to Noel and sent it to him on his birthday.

In his Autobiography, Conrad Noel writes:

About this time I had a letter from my bishop saying that his friends were very pained when they saw hanging up in Thaxted Church a card containing a secular song called The General Dance. Would I kindly remove it at once? As it had already been stolen, this was not possible . . . but when I reminded him that the music was by the famous Gustav Holst, and that The General Dance was sung at festivals in most of our cathedrals, including Canterbury, he at once answered that I must somehow have misunderstood him, and, of course, he was delighted that it should be sung in Thaxted and adorn the walls of our church.

We have a version of The General Dance in coloured manuscript, framed in carved wood. It hangs over the chest by the entrance door. This chest was carved by Arthur Brown, with panels, beginning with the preaching of the Gospel from Thaxted pulpit, resulting in the treading down of dynasties and crowns; the hammer and sickle adorn the third panel, the symbols of artisans and labourers coming into their own, and the fourth panel represents the music of the spheres, which will be the music of the Kingdom here on earth.

The following text is slightly altered from the original. A recording of Holst setting is available on a Hyperion CD: This have I done for my true love. (London, Hyperion Records Ltd., 1994.) A midi of the traditional tune is here. -- Ted M.


Tomorrow shall be my dancing day.
I would my true love did so chance
To see the legend of my play,
To call my true love to the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 Then I was born of a Virgin pure,
 Of her I took fleshly substance:
 Then was I knit to human kind,
 To call my true love to the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

In a manger laid and wrapp'd I was,
So very poor this was my chance,
Betwixt an ox and a silly poor ass,
To call my true love to the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

Then afterwards baptised I was,
The Holy Ghost on me did glance,
My Father's voice heard from above,
To call my true love to my dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

Into the desert I was led,
Where I fasted without substance:
The Devil bad me make stones my bread,
To have me break my true love's dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

Then some on me they made great suit,
And with me made great variance,
Because they loved darkness better than light,
To call my true love to the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 For thirty pence Judas me sold,
 His covetousness for to advance;
 Mark whom I kiss, the same do hold,
 The same is he shall lead the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 Before Pilate they then me brought,
 When Barabbas had deliverance;
 They scourged me and set me at naught,
 Judged me to die to lead the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 When on the cross hanged I was;
 When a spear to my heart did glance,
 There issued forth both water and blood,
 To call my true love to the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 Then down to Hell I took my way,
 For my true love's deliverance,
 And rose again on the third day,
 Up to my true love and the dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

 Then up to Heav'n I did ascend,
 Where now I dwell in sure substance,
 On the right hand of God that all
 May come into the general dance.

     Sing oh my love, oh my love, my love, my love,
     This have I done for my true love.

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Folk musicians

Dives and Lazarus

Another favorite at Thaxted, a traditional English folk song sung to a Holst arrangement of "Kingsfold" (midi). "Dives and Lazarus", along with "The General Dance" and other choral works sung by the Holst Singers are available on a Hyperion CD: This have I done for my true love. (London, Hyperion Records Ltd., 1994.)

        As it fell out upon one day,
        Rich Diverus he made a feast;
        And he invited all his friends,
        And Gentry of the best.
        And it fell out upon one day,
        Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
        He came and laid him down and down,
        Ev'n down at Diverus door.

                And it fell out upon one day,
                Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
                He came and laid him down and down,
                Ev'n down at Diverus door.

         Then Lazarus laid him down and down,
         Ev'n down at Diverus gate,
         Some meat, some drink, brother Diverus,
         For Jesu Christ his sake.
         Thou are none of my brother Lazarus,
         Lying begging at my gate,
         No meat, no drink, will I give thee,
         For Jesu Christ his sake.

                And it fell out upon one day,
                Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
                He came and laid him down and down,
                Ev'n down at Diverus door.

         Then Diverus sent his merry men all,
         To whip poor Lazarus away.
         They had no power to whip one whip,
         But threw their whips away.
         Then Diverus sent out his hungry dogs,
         To bite poor Lazarus away;
         They had not power to bite one bite,
         But licked his sores away.

                And it fell out upon one day,
                Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
                He came and laid him down and down,
                Ev'n down at Diverus door.

         And it fell out upon one day,
         Poor Lazarus sickened and died.
         There came two angels out of Heav'n,
         His soul thereto to guide.
         Rise up, rise up, brother Lazarus,
         And come along with me.
         There is a place prepared in Heav'n,
         For to sit upon an angel's knee.

                And it fell out upon one day,
                Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
                He came and laid him down and down,
                Ev'n down at Diverus door.

         And it fell out upon one day,
         Rich Diverus he sickened and died.
         There came two serpents out of hell,
         His soul thereto to guide.
         Rise up, rise up, brother Diverus,
         And come along with me.
         There is a place prepared in hell,
         For to sit upon a serpent's knee.

                And it fell out upon one day,
                Poor Lazarus he was so poor,
                He came and laid him down and down,
                Ev'n down at Diverus door.

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Thaxted ChurchOur Church Bells at Thaxted

Written by Clifford Bax during the first world war and set to music by Gustav Holst for Thaxted's 1917 Whitsun Music festival. (The composition was later called A Festival Chime.) Reg Groves quotes a visitor as saying, "To hear it preluded by the firing of the Thaxted bells and given with orchestra, handbells and voices was an experience not easily forgotten. It was being sung all over Thaxted by Monday."

The hymn was included in the Hymnal 1940 to a fine old tune (Old 124th), but was dropped from the 1982 Hymnal as "Pelagian". Well, I suppose it may seem so to the "neo-orthodox", whose overly pessimistic view of human nature provides such a convenient excuse for human inaction -- or outright reaction. But I have long loved this hymn as a magnificent call to social repentance in the best tradition of the Prophets. It assumes that such repentance is a real possibility for us precisely because it is God's will for us. If we don't believe God's Kingdom will come, and God's will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, we should, in all honesty, stop praying for it. -- Ted M.


     1. Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.
     Old now is earth, and none may count her days,
     Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,
     Still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim,
     'Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.'

     2. Earth might be fair, and all men glad and wise.
     Age after age their tragic empires rise,
     Built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep:
     Would man but wake from out his haunted sleep,
     Earth might be fair, and all men glad and wise.

     3. Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
     Nor till that day shall God's whole will be done.
     Now, even now, once more from earth to sky
     Peals forth in joy man's old, undaunted cry:
     'Earth shall be fair, and all her folk be one.'
 

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St. George

God is the only Landlord

A grand old Anglo-Catholic Socialist hymn, based on Charles Dalmon's "St George for Merrie England". This version has been revised by Ken Leech, and I am grateful to him and the East London Jubilee Group for this updated text. It is often sung to "We plow the fields", but I can't sing it (not that I can sing much of anything), so I rather like "Hankey" or else Gustav Holsts's "Thaxed". (Thanks to Joan Rasch for the reworked Midi file!)

Any other suggestions? -- Ted M.


1. You faithful saints and martyrs
Who fought for truth and right,
We ask your prayers and blessings
To aid us in our fight.
Your faith shall be our watchword,
Your cause shall be our own -
To fight against oppression
Till it be overthrown.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

2. In many a golden story,
On many a golden page,
The poets in their poems
Have sung the golden age,
The age of love and beauty,
The age of joy and peace,
When everyone lived gladly
And shared the earth's increase.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

3. Today the tyrants triumph
And bind us for their gains,
But Jesus Christ  our Saviour
Will free us from our chains,
And love, the only master,
Will strive with might and greed,
Till might is right no longer,
And right is might indeed.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

4. God is the only Landlord
To whom our rents are due.
God made the earth for everyone
And not for just a few.
The four parts of creation --
Earth, water, air, and fire --
God made and ranked and stationed
For everyone's desire.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

5. God made the earth for freedom
And God alone is Lord,
And we will win our birthright
By truth's eternal sword;
And all the powers of darkness
And all the hosts of pride
Shall pass and be forgotten
For God is by our side.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

6. Christ blessed the meek and told them
That they the earth should own.
And he will lead the battle
From his eternal throne.
O have no fear, my comrades,
Cry out in holy mirth!
For God to us has promised
His Kingdom here on earth.

		Lift up the people's banner
		And let the ancient cry
		For justice and for freedom
		Re-echo to the sky.

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Daily, daily, sing the praises

drumThis rousing mission hymn by S. Baring-Gould was quite ruined by its original pie-in-the sky refrain:

O, that I had wings of Angels
Here to spread and heavenward fly;
I would seek the gates of Sion,
Far beyond the starry sky!

In outdoor processions at Thaxted, however, the verses were sung with a new refrain based on Blake's "Jerusalem". The vigorous tune in the English Hymnal came from a French Paroissien and would be familiar to old-time Anglo-Catholics as the tune of "Ye who own the Faith of Jesus" and to old-time Roman Catholics as "Daily, daily sing to Mary". Needs a brass band and a big bass drum.


        1.  Daily, daily sing the praises
        Of the City God hath made;
        In the beauteous fields of Eden
        Its foundation stones are laid;

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         2.  All the walls of that dear City
         Are of bright and burnished gold;
         It is matchless in this beauty,
         And its treasures are untold;

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         3.  In the midst of that dear City
         Christ is reigning on his seat,
         and the Angels swing their censers
         In a ring about his feet:

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         4.  From the throne a river issues,
         Clear as crystal, passing bright,
         And it traverses the City
         Like a beam of living light:

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         5.  There the meadows green and dewey
         Shine with lilies wondrous fair;
         Thousand, thousand are the colours
         Of the waving flowers there:

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         6.  There the forests ever blossom,
         Like our orchards here in May;
         There the gardens never wither,
         But eternally are gay:

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         7.  There the wind is sweetly fragrant,
         And is laden with the song
         Of the Seraphs, and the Elders,
         And the great redeemed throng:

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         8.  O I would my ears were open
         Here to catch that happy strain!
         O I would my eyes some vision
         Of that Eden could attain!

                We will not cease from battle
                Nor the sword sleep in our hand
                Till Jerusalem is builded
                In our green and pleasant land!

         

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The Red Banner of Christ Red Banner


As sung at gatherings of the Catholic Crusade. Reg Groves says that the tune of "The Red Flag" as sung by the labor and socialist movements was used throughout. This would be either "O Tannenbaum" or the old Jacobite tune "The White Cockade". -- Ted M.


1. The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar!
Who follows in his train?

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

2. The Martyr first, whose eagle eye
Could pierce beyond the grave;
Who saw his Master in the sky,
And called on him to save.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

3. Like him, with pardon on his tongue
In midst of mortal pain,
He prayed for them who did him wrong!
Who follows in his train?

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

4. A glorious band, the chosen few
On whom the Spirit came.
Twelve valiant Saints, their hope they knew,
And mocked the cross and flame.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

5. They met the tyrant's brandish'd steel,
The lion's gory mane,
They bowed their necks the death to feel;
Who follows in their train?

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

6. A noble army, men and boys,
The matron and the maid,
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice
In robes of light arrayed.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

7. They climbed the steep ascent of heaven
Through peril, toil, and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train.

    Then raise the scarlet standard high;
    Within its shade we'll live and die;
    Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
    We'll keep the red flag flying here!

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Let Streams of Living Justice

Ken Leech writes from Manchester [UK]: Comrades may be interested in the offertory hymn which we used at my 40th anniversary Mass. It goes to Holst's tune Thaxed which in the UK is usually sung to the words 'I vow to thee my country All earthly things above..The love that asks no question'. In the 1920s Fr John Groser said orthodox Christians could not sing it with a clear conscience, as did the Jubilee Group at some point in the 70s or 80s. We received these alternative words from Bill Whitla, a Professor in Toronto and member of Holy Trinity parish there. There is a censored version of it in the new hymn book of the Anglican Church of Canada but they have omitted one verse [the second].

Let streams of living justice flow down upon the earth.
Give freedom's light to captives; let all the poor have worth.
The hungry's hands are pleading; the workers claim their rights,
The mourners long for laughter, the blinded seek for sight.
Make liberty a beacon, strike down the iron power.
Abolish ancient vengeance. Proclaim your people's hour.

The dreaded disappearance of family and friend,
The torture and the silence - the fear that knows no end.
The mother with her candle, the child who holds a gun,
The old one nursing hatred - all seek release to come.
Each candle burns for freedom, each light's a tyrant's fall.
Each flower placed for martyrs gives tongue to silenced call.

For healing of the nations, for peace that will not end. 
For love that makes us lovers, God grant us grace to mend. 
Weave our varied gifts together: knit our lives as they are spun.
On your loom of life enrol us till the thread of life is run.
O great Weaver of our fabric, bind church and world in one.
Dye our texture with your radiance, light our colours with your sun.

Your city's built for music: we are the stones you seek.
Your harmony is language. We are the words you speak.
Our faith we find in service, our hope in other's dreams.
Our love in hand of neighbour. Our homeland brightly gleams.
Inscribe our hearts with justice, your way - the path untried:
Your truth - the heart of stranger, your life - the Crucified.

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(some images © www.arttoday.com)


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