THIS MONTH’S PARODY (October) The Church’s One Foundation

HYMNS provide an endless source of parodies, either by imitating the verse structure or by singing alternative words to the hymn’s familiar music. Here are examples of both. Samuel Stone (1839-1900) wrote the original hymn in 1866 as a counterblast to a certain Bishop Colenso and the way he had explained the Old Testament to Zulus. This is what verse 3 is all about. It became one of the late Victorian era’s most popular hymns, especially after the tune ‘Aurelia’ by S.S.Wesley became attached to it (a tune, incidentally, originally intended for ‘Jerusalem the golden’ which has the same scansion: Iambic, 7 6 7 6 D).

Betjeman’s affectionate parody is a gently ironic complaint about the well-meaning but misguided Victorian restorers of our ecclesiastical heritage, clearly intended to be sung to ‘Aurelia’. The tune is an essential ingredient for any rendering of ‘The Dog’s Party’ that follows.


The Church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one o’er all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed,
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won,
With all her sons and daughters
Who, by the Master’s hand
Led through the deathly waters,
Repose in Eden land.



Sir John Betjeman

 The Church’s Restoration
In eighteen-eighty-three
Has left for contemplation
Not what there used to be.
How well the ancient woodwork
Looks round the Rect’ry hall,
Memorial of the good work
Of him who plann’d it all.


He who took down the pew-ends
And sold them anywhere
But kindly spared a few ends
Work’d up into a chair.
O worthy persecution
Of dust! O hue divine!
O cheerful substitution,
Thou varnished pitch-pine!


Church furnishing! Church furnishing!
Sing art and crafty praise!
He gave the brass for burnishing
He gave the thick red baize,
He gave the new addition,
Pull’d down the dull old aisle,
– To pave the sweet transition
He gave th’ encaustic tile.

 Of marble brown and veinèd
He did the pulpit make;
He order’d windows stainèd
Light red and crimson lake.
Sing on, with hymns uproarious,
Ye humble and aloof,
Look up! and oh how glorious
He has restored the roof.


The dogs they had a party,
They came from near and far
And some dogs came by aeroplane
And some dogs came by car.
They came into the cloakroom
And signed the visitor’s book,
Then each dog took his arsehole
And hung it on a hook.

The dogs they were assembled,
Each mother, son and sire,
When a dirty little mongrel
Got up and shouted ‘Fire!’
The dogs were in a panic,
They had no time to look,
So each dog took an arsehole
From off the nearest hook.

The dogs they were so angry
For it was very sore
To wear another’s arsehole
You never wore before.
And that it is the reason
Why dog will leave its bone
To sniff another’s arsehole
In the hope it is its own.

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