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

Churchgoing Dudley Young
 
THE parish church is only fifty yards from here, and the service I sometimes attend is Evensong. This is partly because the ladies with hats have come and gone in the morning, and an empty church welcomes my anachoretical self. But it is also because Cranmer's Book, though banished from the morning, still presides at Evensong. Doubtless this irregularity will soon be corrected, and then, I suppose, I shall only visit this twelfth- century house unofficially.

The Psalm is the best moment of common prayer at Evensong, and it is always cheering to testify to that fine old language. Lines that may at first seem a little weird (`Their land brought forth frogs: yea even in the king's chambers') often reveal, after a moment's thought, their lucid economy (as this one does). And if they don't, well that's fine too: the man so authentic as to be embarrassed by the recitation of such marvellous archaic nonsense as one can find in the Psalms should look to his sense of humour.

But mostly, of course, the lines are simply wonderful:


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in
      great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the
      deep. (AV)


Considerable energy is dispatched through that first line, evenly distributed through the nicely articulated syntax. But what makes the movement thrilling is the strangely two-fold direction ...


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