Thursday, December 12, 2013

Time for some 'rank blasphemy' from Hilaire Belloc

Courtesy of the American Chesterton Society - ACS Blog (December 24, 2010):
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
A Catholic tale have I to tell:
And a Christian song have I to sing
While all the bells in Arundel ring.

I pray good beef and I pray good beer
This holy night of all the year,
But I pray detestable drink for them
That give no honour to Bethlehem.

May all good fellows that here agree
Drink Audit Ale* in heaven with me,
And may all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël! Noël! Noël!
May all my enemies go to hell!
Noël! Noël!

*Nathan Allen explains: In the Middle Ages there were four principal holy days, roughly corresponding to the two solstices and the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, when the collection of rents and payment of feudal tributes traditionally took place. These four feast days were Lady Day (March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation), Midsummer Day (June 24, the Nativity of St John the Baptist), Michaelmas (September 29, the Feast of St Michael and All Angels), and Christmas. At these times, the feudal lord was expected to provide the entertainment, and this gave rise to the brewing of special seasonal ales, which were then called “audit ales” because of their association with the periodic settling of accounts. It should be noted that feudal tributes and rent payments in the Middle Ages were often nominal and symbolic in nature, and were more about reflecting the relationship of the tenant or vassal to his lord than the actual value of the lands themselves. For example, it was not at all uncommon for a lord to receive as “rent” a rose at Midsummer, or some other symbolic payment such as a peppercorn (Blackstone uses the example of a peppercorn as payment for land in Book II, chapter 20 of his Commentaries on the Laws of England), giving rise to the legal term “peppercorn consideration” for a nominal payment (one dollar, for example) made by one party to the other in forming a contract. As such, these periodic audits were as much about the social life and structure of the community as they were about money changing hands. Belloc is expressing here the notion of the Day of Judgement as the great Audit, and heaven the feast afterwards, when every knee has bent in acknowledgment of the Lordship of Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:10), and each man has given an accounting of his life and now the community of saints rejoice in the heavenly banquet, having entered into the joy of their Lord. (cf. Matthew 25:19-23).
[Hat tip to IANS]


c matt said...

Hmm... you think we could get the IRS to buy into Audit Days like those?

Ralph Roister-Doister said...