Monday, 17 December 2007

Hymnodist Wesley, 300 tomorrow

In countless streets the evenings will soon be ringing to the strains of 'Hark! the Herald Angels Sing' as small and large bands of carollers, bona-fide or otherwise, armed with their rattling collecting tins and various musical and unmusical instruments plod and slosh their weary way from door to door, corner to corner or square to square ostensibly collecting cash for charity.
The author of the world's most popular doorstep carol will be 300 tomorrow and so at this time P-i-R recalls how as a boy along with his brother, like many another disreputable youth of his generation, he doorstepped the odd sixpence from an old lady here and there by means of Charles Wesley's famous hymn. So off-key and painful to listen to were the brothers that residents paid them to cease singing and go on their way. The money would end up in the cash drawer of the local tobacconist. No health warnings in those days!
By way of apology to those old folk and the celebrated hymnodist P-i-R has unearthed a couple lines that have a touch of poetry about them. They come from 'Come, O Thou Traveller Unknown':

I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home

This year when they come round to entertain me with their sheepish carol singing I'll happily slot an extra coin in the knife-mouthed tin. And I don't care where it goes. I owe it.

Many Happy Returns, Charles Wesley!

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