I was just doing a little research for my sermon this Sunday (will be posted later) and I came across, as you do, a little memory gem from my youth.
I was brought up a catholic (I suppose I ought to say “roman catholic” these days) but it never really stuck. Only now in middle age, when I have a son, have I revisited those catholic school days with a certain fondness. As always with childhood, it seemed so normal then, and seems to delightfully eccentric now. My primary school days holds memories of incredibly, incredibly boring Masses, vomiting nuns, massive statues of the BVM in the school playground, churches decorated with what one could only describe these days as “bling”, and the hymns.
Dear God, the hymns.
Below are a couple of the hymns we used to sing – I can’t remember if they were at Sunday School, or in school itself, but… well, just have a read.
I am a faithful Catholic,
I love my Holy Faith,
I will be true to Holy Church,
And steadfast until death.
I shun the haunts of those who seek
To ensnare poor Catholic youth ;
No Church I own, no schools I know,
But those that teach the Truth.
If base it is to yield before
The persecutor’s rod;
Then baser far to side with those
Who insult the Church of God,
Oh, far from me such wickedness
One treasure I hold dear,
MY HOLY FAITH. I fear not men
‘Tis God alone I fear.
I love His Altar, where I kneel,
My Jesus to adore;
I love my Mother, Mary dear,
Oh! may I love them more.
I love the Saints of olden time,
The places where they dwelt;
I love to pray where Saints have prayed,
And kneel where they have knelt.
I love my Cross, I love my Beads,
Each emblem of my faith;
Let foolish men rail as they will,
I’ll love them until death.
Full in the panting heart of Rome,
Beneath the Apostle’s crowning dome,
From pilgrims’ lips that kiss the ground
Breathes in all tongues one only sound:
“God bless our Pope, God bless our Pope,
God bless our Pope, the great, the good.”
The golden roof, the marble walls,
TheVatican’s majestic halls,
The note redouble, till it fills
With echoes sweet the seven hills:
Then surging through each hallowed gate,
Where martyrs glory, in peace, await,
It sweeps beyond the solemn plain,
Peals over Alps, across the main:
From torrid south to frozen north,
That wave harmonious stretches forth,
Yet strikes no chord more true to Rome’s,
Than rings within our hearts and homes:
Splendid stuff. Butch songs for butch catholics.
This one, however I didn’t sing. It is in a hymn book I have which doesn’t have a date, but I’d put to about 1900. Not sure if it says anything about God – it’s basically a “can’t touch me I’m part of the union” song for catholics.
We really have come a long way in a relatively short time, haven’t we?
I’ll never forsake, I never will be,
O church of the saints and apostate from thee
Though friends may entice me, and fortune may frown
My faith and my church until death will I own.
…a catholic live and catholic die
be this my life’s watchword be this my last cry.
They call ma a Papist and laugh at my creed
Tis the faith that will save in the hour of our need
Let them talk let them laugh but when death is at hand
The Priest is our only true friend in the land
Then we’ll cling to the Priest and we’ll cling to the Pope
We’ll cling to Christ’s Vicar, for Christ is our hope
We’ll fight a good battle and Mary the while
From her throne in the skies, on her children will smile.