I was a small child in the early 1960s and retain a few relics of childhood, including a small collection of Dinky Toys. The Austin Cambridge and Vauxhall Velox survive in their boxes as they were kept for ‘best’. I also have a few remaining fragments of something called ‘Betta Bilda’, which was made by Airfix and a forerunner of lego.
I also retain an interest in the current affairs and popular culture of the period. As part of this, in the 1980s, I recorded on VHS some episodes of a half hour BBC series called ‘The Rock & Roll Years’. The edition for 1962 contains a clip with Ludovic Kennedy interviewing Donald Coggan, who was then Archbishop of York and Adam Faith, a pop singer of the time. Adam Faith’s claim to fame was that he had a hit with a novelty song in which he mispronounced the word baby as ‘bay-buh’. He also appeared in a couple of films.
Mr Faith (real name Terence Nelhams) had decided that the C of E was too fuddy-duddy for teenagers like him to relate to, and proposed what Mr Kennedy referred to as ‘a complete re-write of the English hymnal.’
You would expect the cleric to point out that the church has a rich tradition of sacred music, but that there might be avenues for innovation alongside tradition. His response was instead – ‘I’d be all for it!’
Coming right up to date, the current Archbishop of York recently stated that the words of the Our Father or Lord’s Prayer are ‘potentially problematic’ due to ‘the language of patriarchy’. This baffled most ordinary Anglicans and there was much mirth and derision in the media and in the Sunday papers. We still knelt down at St Mary’s that Sunday and prayed using the words ‘commanded by Divine teaching’.
We are at St Mary’s a traditional Anglo-Catholic parish church. As such, we ask ourselves ‘what is so special about now?’ and question the need to fall in with whatever happens to be the current secular trend.
I suspect that in 60 years time these recent pronouncements will seem as curious and dated as the BBC interview, while scripture and the tenets of the church endure.