A Different Language

Anglican Mumbo-Jumbo – April 2013
We went to a church service for a Christening at St Peter’s Church, Leighton-cum-Minshull Vernon near Crewe. Crewe is a working-class town, with factories and distribution depots. The church is not in Crewe, it’s near to Crewe, on a road that’s always busy with traffic. The language used in the service was English, but a different form of English from that spoken by me, and even further divorced was it from that spoken by many of the people in Crewe.
The hymnbook was Hymns Old and New, New Anglican Edition and in the hymn The King of Love my Shepherd is by Henry William Baker, was the line ‘thy unction grace bewstoweth’.
What on earth or in heaven does ‘thy unction grace bewstoweth’ mean? And it is followed by the line, ‘and oh, what transport of delight from thy pure chalice floweth!’ complete with exclamation mark. Can the Church complain, if people who give a moments thought to this feel that they are being fed mumbo jumbo?
And in another hymn, Angel Voices Ever Singing are the lines, ‘can it be that thou regardest our poor hymnody’ and ‘hearts and minds and hands and voices in our choicest psalmody’.
At one level this is of little consequence, if the Church wants to disappear up its own backside in cloud-cuckoo speak then that’s up to it. But for those like me who believe in language as a form of communication and that we should all be working for inclusiveness in this and to do all we can, from a moral standpoint, to censure elitism, it is of great consequence. On that basis the Church deserves loud ridicule and a strong kick up the arse.