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Verses Turned...

Written by: John Betjeman | Biography
 | Quotes (3) |
 Across the wet November night
The church is bright with candlelight
And waiting Evensong.
A single bell with plaintive strokes Pleads louder than the stirring oaks The leafless lanes along.
It calls the hoirboys from their tea And villagers, the two or three, Damp down the kitchen fire, Let out the cat, and up the lane Go paddling through the gentle rain Of misty Oxfordshire.
How warm the many candles shine Of Samuel Dowbiggin's design For this interior neat, These high box pews of Georgian days Which screen us from the public gaze When we make answer meet; How gracefully their shadow falls On bold pilasters down the walls And on the pulpit high.
The chandeliers would twinkle gold As pre-Tractarian sermons roll'd Doctrinal, sound and dry.
From that west gallery no doubt The viol and serpent tooted out The Tallis tune to Ken, And firmly at the end of prayers The clerk below the pulpit stairs Would thunder out "Amen.
" But every wand'ring thought will cease Before the noble alterpiece With carven swags array'd, For there in letters all may read The Lord's Commandments, Prayer and Creed, And decently display'd.
On country morningd sharp and clear The penitent in faith draw near And kneeling here below Partake the heavenly banquet spread Of sacremental Wine and Bread And Jesus' presence know.
And must that plaintive bell in vain Plead loud along the dripping lane? And must the building fall? Not while we love the church and live And of our charity will give Our much, our more, our all.



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