A blog dedicated to providing quotes by and posts relating to one of the most influential (and quotable!) authors of the twentieth century, G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936). If you do not know much about GKC, I suggest visiting the webpage of the American Chesterton Society as well as this wonderful Chesterton Facebook Page by a fellow Chestertonian

I also have created a list detailing examples of the influence of Chesterton if you are interested, that I work on from time to time.

(Moreover, for a list of short GKC quotes, I have created one here, citing the sources)

"...Stevenson had found that the secret of life lies in laughter and humility."

-Heretics (1905)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hilaire Belloc's "Song of the Pelagian Heresy"

OK, the following song is *not* by Chesterton, but since it's by the other half of the Chesterbelloc (Hilaire Belloc), it is still appropriate enough for this blog, and so I had to post it. :-)

It is taken from Belloc's novel The Four Men (1912), in which a character named The Sailor sings it. (However, it contains historical errors which one of the other characters in the novel called Grizzlebeard points out- see the end of this post). But it is hilarious, nevertheless.

The Song of the Pelagian Heresy for the Strengthening of Men's Backs and the Very Robust Out-thrusting of Doubtful Doctrine and the Uncertain Intellectual

Pelagius lived in Kardanoel
and taught a doctrine there
How whether you went to Heaven or Hell,
It was your own affair.
How, whether you found eternal joy
Or sank forever to burn,
It had nothing to do with the church, my boy,
But it was your own concern.

Oh, he didn't believe in Adam and Eve,
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began with the fall of man,
And he laughed at original sin!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
He laughed at orignal sin!

Whereat the Bishop of old Auxerre
(Germanus was his name)
He tore great handfuls out of his hair,
And he called Pelagius Shame:
And then with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly thwhacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall,
They rather had been hanged.

Oh, he thwacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions,
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow,
Their orthodox persuasions!

Now the Faith is old
and the Devil is bold
Exceedingly bold. indeed;
And the masses of doubt
That are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in sturdy youth,
And still can drink strong ale,
Oh -- let us put it away to infallible truth,
Which always shall prevail!

And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword,
And for howling heretics, too;
And whatever good things
our Christendom brings,
But especially the barley-brew!

With my row-ti-tow, ti-oodly-ow
Especially the barley-brew!


"As we swung down the road which leads at last to Little Cowfold, Grizzlebeard, thinking about that song, said:
'I cannot believe, Sailor, that your song is either old or true; for there is no such place as Kardanoel, and Pelagius never lived there, and his doctrine was very different from what you say, and the blessed Germanus would not have hurt a fly. As witness that battle of his somewhere in Flint, where he discomforted the Scotch, of all people, by talking Hebrew too loud, although he only knew one word of the tongue. Then, also, what you say of ale is not ecclesiastical, nor is it right doctrine to thank the Lord for heresy.'

The Sailor:
'Anything you will! But every church must have its customs within reason, and this song, or rather hymn, is of Breviary, and very properly used in the diocese of the Theleme upon certain feast days. Yes, notably that of the Saints Comus and Hilarius, who, having nothing else to do, would have been cruelly martyred for the faith had they not contrariwise, as befits Christian men, be-martyred and banged to death their very persecutors in turn. It is a prose of the church militant, and is ascribed to Dun-Scotus, but is more probably of traditional origin. Compare the 'Hymn to the Ass', which all good Christian men should know."

'Nevertheless I doubt if it be for the strengthening of souls, but rather a bit of ribaldry, more worthy of the Martyrs' Mount which you may know, than of holy Sussex.'"