Our Vicars of Bray

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I have been roaming around Saint Blogs since 2003 and have become familiar with the work of most of the major Catholic bloggers.  Since the election of Pope Francis I have noticed a curious phenomenon, especially among Catholic bloggers who make their livelihood by hocking books, speaking before parishes, etc:    A  swift reversal of long held positions, combined with a sudden desire to denounce “reactionaries” and a new found respect for liberal Catholics.   No doubt such conversions are heartfelt and not merely time serving, transparent attempts to stay in lockstep with the powers that be.  However, if any such sudden conversions are not heartfelt, I dedicate this poem to them:

“In good King Charles’s golden days,

 When Loyalty no harm meant;

 A Furious High-Church man I was,

 And so I gain’d Preferment.

 Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,

 Kings are by God appointed,

 And Damn’d are those who dare resist,

 Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

 

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When Royal James possest the crown,

 And popery grew in fashion;

 The Penal Law I shouted down,

 And read the Declaration:

 The Church of Rome I found would fit

 Full well my Constitution,

 And I had been a Jesuit,

 But for the Revolution.

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When William our Deliverer came,

 To heal the Nation’s Grievance,

 I turn’d the Cat in Pan again,

 And swore to him Allegiance:

 Old Principles I did revoke,

 Set conscience at a distance,

 Passive Obedience is a Joke,

 A Jest is non-resistance.

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When Royal Anne became our Queen,

 Then Church of England’s Glory,

 Another face of things was seen,

 And I became a Tory:

 Occasional Conformists base

 I Damn’d, and Moderation,

 And thought the Church in danger was,

 From such Prevarication.

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When George in Pudding time came o’er,

 And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,

 My Principles I chang’d once more,

 And so became a Whig, Sir.

 And thus Preferment I procur’d,

 From our Faith’s great Defender,

 And almost every day abjur’d

 The Pope, and the Pretender.

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

The Illustrious House of Hannover,

 And Protestant succession,

 To these I lustily will swear,

 Whilst they can keep possession:

 For in my Faith, and Loyalty,

 I never once will faulter,

 But George, my lawful king shall be,

 Except the Times shou’d alter.

And this is law, I will maintain

 Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

 That whatsoever King may reign,

 I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!”

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4 Comments

  1. It’s interesting how politics and religion were always so closely tied together in England. One could become high church or broad depending on what was politically expedient. What a wonderful tradition we’ve inherited in America: freedom of religion enables us to own what we believe and believe what we own.

  2. There is a a little village outside Oxford called Hinksey. The church is St Peter’s (and the pub is the Cross Keys)

    It has a list of its rectors on the board inside the church and one of them was the incumbent from 1529 (Four years before Henry VIII’s Act of Appeals that marked the breach with Rome) until 1563 (Four years after Elizabeth i’s accession) In other words, he retained his living under Henry’s Act of Supremacy and the anti-Protestant Act of Six Articles, the Articles and First and Second Prayer Books of Edward VI, the Reconciliation with Rome under Mary and the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity under Elizabeth I

    That certainly rivals the Vicar of Bray.

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