Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Church Matters

Article excerpt

Byline: By Francis Wood


Room 101 is the dreaded room in George Orwell's 1984. It gives its name to a current BBC-TV programme. Guests are invited to suggest items they would love to consign to the room and get them out of their lives. Each week I long for a chance to name my own pet aversions in the Church.

First into the black hole, I would toss modern hymn books. Today's lyric writers make a packet by changing the words of hymns in the name of political correctness and modernity. Onward Christian Soldiers is now Onward Christian Pilgrims, a travesty of the original. The hymn has nothing to do with the armed forces but everything to do with the Church Militant. Once so popular, it is now lost for ever. In other hymns, words like our fathers are changed to our forbears so as not to offend mothers. Yuk! And whoever altered O hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea, to Hear us when we cry to you, for those upon the sea so blue? Down into the deep go the new hymn books.

Then I would consign the preacher who talks too quickly and the organist who plays too slowly. The first leaves the congregation behind and the second drags the singers down. A preacher may have spent hours on his script but then he delivers it in minutes. No wonder sermons have a bad name and rightly so. Pull the handle! Get rid of them! And throw those organists down the shoot as well! They even make The Lord of the Dance sound like a slow fox trot.

Some items, like Children's Corners have already gone to Room 101. 30 years ago, dolls' houses, Lego and counting frames were brought into churches to encourage children to enjoy services. They were to be the answer to the problems of All-Age Worship. They were not. In the words of the Lord High Executioner in Mikado, they'll surely not be missed.

ADVENT begins tomorrow and with it a host of customs. Many come from overseas. …

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