Sunday 27 November 2022

Service by Tom Vaughan, published in 'The Spectator' 15 April 2017

Service by Tom Vaughan

I stopped believing many years ago
even in non-belief, so why sit here
this winter morning, listening
to Sunday Worship on the radio
from St Martin-in-the-Fields? And to a choir
not so much singing as inheriting

the chanted fables generations pass
each to the next, as though they were handrails
into the future and could guide
us through a lifetime in which nothing lasts
except their solace - a thought which both appals
and fascinates, for what if such well-tried

harmonies say something tuned and true
about the way we can atone with age,
how we should be with one another,
how I both could and should have been with you,
and could still be even at this settled stage
of our long discord? What if this chance encounter

is not mere chance, but one of those rare moments
which offer insight into how the world
is more than all we see or hear
or touch - some inner, outer, spiritual endowment,
an unexpected cadence overheard,
which everyone, and everywhere, could share?

So let the old words comfort if they can -
they've done good service down the troubled years
helping us to come to terms
with what usually seems not just absurd, unplanned,
but a void our shocked imagination fears
and that unsung language only silence learns.

published in The Spectator 15 April, 2017

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