Archive for the ‘Clifford Bax’ Tag

Feast of Clifford Bax (July 13)   Leave a comment

Clifford_Bax

Image in the Public Domain

CLIFFORD BAX (JULY 13, 1886-NOVEMBER 18, 1962)

Poet, Playwright, and Hymn Writer

Clifford Bax (1886-1962), brother of composer Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953), was born in London, England.  Our saint traveled when young, studying art in Germany, Belgium, and Italy, before turning to literature and becoming a skilled poet and playwright.  Some of his published works were:

  1. Twenty Chinese Poems (1910);
  2. Poems Dramatic and Lyrical (1911);
  3. Square Pegs:  A Rhymed Fantasy for Two Girls (1920);
  4. A House of Words (1920);
  5. Antique Pageantry (1921):
  6. The Traveller’s Tale (1921);
  7. Up Stream:  A Drama in Three Acts (1922);
  8. Polite Satires (1922); and
  9. Island Far (1925), a book of recollections.

The text which brought Bax to my attention was a hymn, “Turn Back, O Man, Forswear Thy Foolish Ways” (1916), written during World War I.  That conflict, unfortunately, was not the “war to end all wars.”  No, President Woodrow Wilson’s prophesy from 1919 proved correct; a much worse global war followed it.  And World War I destroyed empires, changed the map of Europe and parts of Asia, claimed the lives of many people, and devastated a generation.  Bax’s hymn is a profound text, one which Godspell (1971) bastardizes and makes frivolous.  I prefer the Gustav Holst music:

Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.

Old now is earth, and none may count her days,

Yet thou, her child, whose head is crowned with flame,

Still wilt not hear thine inner God proclaim–

“Turn back, O man, forswear thy foolish ways.”

+++++

Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.

Age after age their tragic empires rise,

Built while they dream, and in that dreaming weep:

Would not but wake from out his haunted sleep,

Earth might be fair and all men glad and wise.

+++++

Earth shall be fair, and all her people are:

Nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done.

Now, even now, once more from earth to sky,

Peals forth in joy man’s old, undaunted cry–

“Earth shall be fair, and all her fold be one!”

The Handbook to The Hymnal (1935), companion volume to The Hymnal (1933), Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., said:

In spite of the flame of reason which crowns the brow of man, in spite of the lessons of history, he still goes forth in his foolish ways, still fails to hear the gentle voice of God which speaks in his bosom….This call to repentance rises with holy indignation from the soul of the poet, who sees what ruin man’s folly and wrath have wrought, and sees as well what good will and brotherly kindness might do.

–pages 438 and 439

Or maybe we should dress in tacky clothing and sing and dance atop the World Trade Center.  O wait, those towers do not exist anymore.  Agents of hatred destroyed them.  No, sober spirituality, not frivolity, fits that text well.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 22, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SYNCLETIA OF ALEXANDRIA, DESERT MOTHER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ADELARD OF CORBIE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT OF SARAGOSSA, DEACON AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI, FOUNDER OF THE PALLOTINES

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear God of beauty,

you have granted literary ability and spiritual sensitivity to

Clifford Bax and others, who have composed hymn texts.

May we, as you guide us,

find worthy hymn texts to be icons,

through which we see you.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3a, 5-15

Psalm 147

Revelation 5:11-14

Luke 2:8-20

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 20, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATOR OF AUXERRE AND GERMANUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS; SAINT MAMERTINUS OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT; AND SAINT MARCIAN OF AUXERRE, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK

THE FEAST OF JOHANNES BUGENHAGEN, GERMAN LUTHERAN PASTOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARCELLINUS OF EMBRUN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF OLAVUS AND LAURENTIUS PETRI, RENEWERS OF THE CHURCH

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++