Wednesday 19 September 2012

'as a roaring lion...'

'Brethren, be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist, steadfast in the faith...'
  These stern words popped into my head unbidden the other day. They are from the evening Office of Compline, which begins 'The Lord almighty grant us a quiet night and a perfect end' - I'd remembered that too. Why? These fragmentary memories are certainly not the product of a lifetime's churchgoing or a lifetime's private devotion, but of a lifetime's listening to the radio. I grew up in a time when Compline was broadcast regularly (even daily?) on the radio - quite early in the evening at one time, I think (I seem to remember listening as a child), and latterly a little before midnight. It was still in the Radio 4 schedules in the early Nineties. Another age.
  Similarly, my mind is awash with fragments of hymns (often all but complete versions) that I know only from years of school assemblies, and passages and phrases from the Bible (King James version) that again I know mostly from school and from some private reading, rather than from church attendance. Previous generations had heads very much fuller of the Bible and of sacred songs that mine ever was, and succeeding generations will have less and less, until - quite soon now, I fancy - there will only be the biblical phrases that have embedded themselves most completely in the language, and perhaps a few well-worn hymns and carols. This cannot be good for the language - can it? 

1 comment:

  1. Its the same with lots of things Nige - British history is another one; at schools these days they only teach nazi germany and the cold war, try asking any child about Alfred the Great or the princes in the tower and they will look at you with utter incomprehension. It's not the fault of the children but it is worrying that we'll have whole generations that have no context of the sweep of history, but only of a few short and relatively recent years. Likewise the bible, regardless of its content, rooted people in a tradition that stretched back into the past