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This article is taken from PN Review 13, Volume 6 Number 5, May - June 1980.

Why Spit on Your Luck? David Martin
THAT is W. H. Auden's comment on those policies and trends which threaten to depose the Authorised Version and the Book of Common Prayer. Meanwhile, too many churchmen and teachers stand around with upturned palms. Some seem unaware of what such a loss implies. Others do not see that unless certain policies are reversed both Cranmer and the Authorised Version will be out of mind by the year 2000. By then it will be no use intoning 'Of course, we all love the English liturgy and the King James Bible'. Next to nobody will have had the opportunity to hear or to know either. The old books will be gently falling apart on the vestry shelves.

We speak strongly because the alternatives are stark. Either the Church wills the conditions under which Cranmer and King James continue to be part of the natural furniture of the mind, or else they drag out a shifty afterlife amongst an eight o'clock or mid-week remnant. Indeed some parishes have already blotted them out altogether. Behind the thin guise of 'choice' the double crown of English faith and language is being hustled and shoved into the museum. And what loosens the keystone of these classic texts touches the whole arch of rhyme and imaginative reason. The common poetry of English life is now being abandoned, in church and in school. This will be a national loss comparable to the wholesale destruction of our churches and cathedrals. Where the markers stood, there ...

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