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Didn't know the Vicar of Bray

DigiTrad:
IN VINO VERITAS
THE VICAR OF BRAY
VICAR OF BRAY (American)


Related thread:
Lyr Add: Tale of the Cobbler & Vicar of Bray (1)


Rumncoke 19 Jun 09 - 01:38 PM
Deckman 19 Jun 09 - 01:42 PM
The Borchester Echo 19 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM
Leadfingers 19 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Jun 09 - 01:54 PM
Don Firth 19 Jun 09 - 02:14 PM
The Borchester Echo 19 Jun 09 - 02:22 PM
Herga Kitty 19 Jun 09 - 03:13 PM
Rapparee 19 Jun 09 - 03:19 PM
Rumncoke 19 Jun 09 - 03:33 PM
Jack Blandiver 19 Jun 09 - 03:45 PM
Tug the Cox 19 Jun 09 - 06:15 PM
Stringsinger 19 Jun 09 - 06:17 PM
Joe_F 19 Jun 09 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Chris Murray 20 Jun 09 - 05:16 AM
Leadfingers 20 Jun 09 - 08:46 AM
Don Firth 20 Jun 09 - 03:05 PM
Murpholly 20 Jun 09 - 06:50 PM
dick greenhaus 20 Jun 09 - 10:05 PM
goatfell 21 Jun 09 - 10:47 AM
Effsee 21 Jun 09 - 09:53 PM
GUEST,Guest 21 Jun 09 - 10:27 PM
goatfell 22 Jun 09 - 01:12 PM
Effsee 22 Jun 09 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,mayomick 22 Jun 09 - 04:10 PM
Acme 22 Jun 09 - 04:27 PM
goatfell 22 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM
Effsee 22 Jun 09 - 10:23 PM
giles earle 23 Jun 09 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,mayomick 29 Jun 09 - 09:49 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jun 09 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,mayomick 29 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,Chris Murray 29 Jun 09 - 03:32 PM
Uncle_DaveO 29 Jun 09 - 05:15 PM
nickp 30 Jun 09 - 04:19 AM
Jim Dixon 15 Jul 09 - 09:37 PM
Jim Dixon 15 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM
Jim Dixon 15 Jul 09 - 11:48 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 11 - 04:04 AM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 11 - 04:18 AM
Newport Boy 24 Apr 11 - 04:57 AM
MGM·Lion 24 Apr 11 - 06:00 AM
EBarnacle 24 Apr 11 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,glueman 24 Apr 11 - 08:20 AM
justice 24 Apr 11 - 08:28 AM
EBarnacle 24 Apr 11 - 12:34 PM
Joe_F 24 Apr 11 - 05:27 PM
Tattie Bogle 25 Apr 11 - 03:25 PM
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Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Jun 13 - 03:24 PM
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Subject: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Rumncoke
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:38 PM

I was watching the quiz probram 'Eggheads' on UK telly, and the visiting team were competing for 45 thousand pounds - and they were doing really well, having got closer than any of the teams I have seen recently.

However they were asked for the title of the folksong about a clergyman in the county of Kent who altered his views in order to stay in his job - and did not know.

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:42 PM

Heck ... I'm a Yank ... and I've known about him for 55 years! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM

I'm not surprised they were confused if the question set the story in Kent. Bray is is Berkshire.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:53 PM

Your 'average' Folkie probaly knows more Trivia than any one else !


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 01:54 PM

The question did actually say Berkshire.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 02:14 PM

Yeah. Recorded a long time ago by Richard Dyer-Bennet, and I believe it's printed in "The New Song Fest" compiled by Dick and Beth Best. I've seen it other places, too, and it's undoubtedly been recorded by many others.

I didn't know that Bray was an actual location. I always thought that "The Vicar of Bray" suggested that the vicar tended to bray like an ass.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 02:22 PM

What else Bray is famous for


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 03:13 PM

IIRC, and this is lore that I'll maintain, the Queen's Head on the A308 in Bray is where I first heard No Turn Unstoned (Leadfingers and Tony Warren - of Countdown fame), and also first heard Les Sullivan.....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Rapparee
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 03:19 PM

Gee, Roger Bray is on the City Council -- and he's Vicar at a local church....


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Rumncoke
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 03:33 PM

Duuuhhh

Yes, sorry, it was/is Berkshire - how it transmogrified into Kent between the front room and the PC - that's anyone's guess....

I was just poking the potatoes to see if they were done, several hours later and I thought - hang on - did I write Kent?

I've lost a lot of things in my life - but the one I really miss is - er - now what was it?

Anne Croucher


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 03:45 PM

I wouldn't have known either if it wasn't for the Stanley Holloway film which I caught by chance on a rainy afternoon in Blyth circa 1973. If the sun had been shining that day, I too would be innocent of TVOB. No great loss.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 06:15 PM

The Vicar of Bray was an a real person who shifted his allegiances according to the preferences of the current Monarch. In the turbulent times around the Glorious revolution(1688) you never knew where you stood, and those who made a stand were often deprived of their livelihood. The eponymous vicar was known for preaching anything tjhat found favour with his benefactors.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 06:17 PM

Here, in the States I think he was Billy Graham.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Joe_F
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 06:27 PM

"Some years ago a friend took me to the little Berkshire church of which the celebrated Vicar of Bray was once the incumbent. (Actually it is a few miles from Bray, but perhaps at that time the two livings were one.) In the churchyard there stands a magnificent yew tree which, according to a notice at its foot, was planted by no less a person than the Vicar of Bray himself. And it struck me at the time as curious that such a man should have left such a relic behind him.
. . .
"...it might not be a bad idea, every time you commit an antisocial act, to make a note of it in your diary, and then, at the appropriate season, push an acorn into the ground.
"And, if even one in twenty of them came to maturity, you might do quite a lot of harm in your lifetime, and still, like the Vicar of Bray, end up as a public benefactor after all."
-- George Orwell, "A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray" (1946)

A biographer once said that Orwell's poem "A happy vicar I might have been" had been suggested by "The Vicar of Bray". I ventured to suggest, in another place, that if he had really had that tune running thru his head at the time, the poem might have come out more like this:

A happy divine I might have been
Two hundred years ago, sir,
To preach theology obscene
And watch my walnuts grow, sir,
But, born into an age of cults
Of bullies with mustaches,
I took my place with the adults
In ign'rant armies' clashes.

    And this is law, I will maintain,
    Until my dying day, sir:
    When Fashion doth one way ordain,
    I'll take the other way, sir.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 05:16 AM

Yes, I thought that. I was yelling at the telly but I don't think it heard me.

I remember singing 'The Vicar of Bray' when we did 'Singing Together' at school.

That programme deserves a gold medal for teaching so many folk songs to a whole generation of children.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 08:46 AM

I am somewhat surprised that the song isnt listed as an Irish song , especially as there IS a Bray (With a Song Group) not far from Dublin !


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 03:05 PM

It's always been my understanding that the song does not refer to any specific vicar or to any particular locality, but that it's someone's potshot at the Church of England in general, in reference to what the songwriter saw as very flexible morals and principles as it adapted itself to any new political situation, sometimes even contradicting its previous positions, especially between the times of Charles II and George I. It would change its positions so adeptly that one wondered that it didn't get whiplash!
The illustrious house of Hanover and Protestant succession
To these I do allegiance swear . . . whilst they can hold possession.
For in my faith and loyalty, I never more will falter,
And George my lawful king shall be . . . until the times do alter!
Given the example of what happened to Thomas Becket after he defied Henry II, and the fate of a number of high clergymen who opposed Henry VIII's carryings on, keeping a low profile and a flexible set of principles would be a reasonable approach in the effort to keep one's head attached to one's shoulders.

At least it appears to me that that's what the song is all about.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Murpholly
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 06:50 PM

Went out with the Vicar of Bray - many years ago - as a non-Christian didn't last long but we had some fun singing the song together.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 10:05 PM

It was popular enough to be parodied during the American Revolution:
Vicar of Bray (American)

When royal George ruled o'er this land and loyalty no harm meant
For Church and King I made a stand and so I got preferment
I still opposed all party tricks for reasons I thought clear ones
And swore it was their politics to made us all Presbyterians

   And this is the law that I'll maintain until my dying day, sir
   That whatsoever King might reign, I'll still be Vicar of Bray, sir

When Stamp Act passed the Parliament to bring some grist to mill, sir
To back it was my firm intent, but soon there came repeal, sir
I quickly joined the common cry that we should all be slaves, sir
The House of Commons was a sty, the Kings and Lords were knaves, sir
Now all went smooth, as smooth as can be, I strutted and looked big,
sir
And when they laid a tax on tea, I was believed a Whig, sir

I laughed at all the vain pretense of taxing at a distance
And swore before I'd pay a pence, I'd make a firm resistance
A Congress now was swiftly called that we might work together
I thought that Britain would, appalled, be glad to make fair weather
And soon repeal the obnoxious bill, as she had done before, sir
That we could gather wealth at will and so be taxed no more, sir

But Britain was not quickly seared, she told another story
When independence was declared, I figured as a Tory
Declared it was a rebellion base, to take up arms - I cursed it
For faith, it seemed a settled case, that we should soon be worsted
The French alliance now came forth, the Papists flocked in shoals, sir
Friseurs, marquis, valets of birth and priests to save our souls, sir

Our "good ally" with towering wing embraced the flattering hope sir
That we should own him for our King and then invite the Pope, sir
Then Howe with drum and great parade marched through this famous town,
sir
I cried, "May fame his temples shade with laurels for a crown," sir
With zeal I swore to make amends to good old constitution
And drank confusion to the friends of our late revolution

But poor Burgoyne's announced my fate the Whigs began to glory
I now bewailed my wretched state, that e'er I was a Tory
By night the British left the shore, nor cared for friends a fig, sir
I turned the cat in pan once more and so became a Whig, sir
I called the army butchering dogs, a bloody tyrant King, sir
The Commons, Lords a set of rogues that all deserved to swing, sir

(final chorus:)
      Since fate has made us great and free and Providence can't alter
      So Congress e'er my King shall be, until the times do alter


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: goatfell
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 10:47 AM

aye folkies frae England might know it but folkies frae Scotland or Wales or Northern ireland might not know it.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Effsee
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 09:53 PM

Speak for yersel' goaty!


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 10:27 PM

The Holmfirth Valley beagles songbook has the song "Here Doctor Mack" listed as sung to the tune of "The Vicar of Bray" so no doubt it will have been recently written by some well known "folk singer" and draw royalties from PR(AT)S.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: goatfell
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 01:12 PM

well when was the last time you were in Scotland, Wales or Ireland Effsee, Come up here and tell the folies in Scotland or Wales or Ireland that those who don't know the song the vicar of bray are just stupid and see what happens


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Effsee
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 03:41 PM

Yer contradicting yersel' Goaty!
I am in Scotland btw, I canna go any further north...well apart fae Dunnet Head!


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 04:10 PM

When George in pudding time came o'er, and moderate men looked big, sir


Does anyone out there know what 'pudding time' means ,or is it lost to history?
I've been doing my best to work it out, but it remains a mystery .


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Acme
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 04:27 PM

Billy Graham was no Vicar of Bray; he has spouted the same tired message for decades. He wants to bend the politicians to his way of thinking, not the other way around.

Changing with the times might not have been recognized as a good thing back when that song was conceived. A change of heart is not the same as the famous "flip flop" that conservative politicians like to try to hang on their opponents (probably not just in the U.S.)

In a time when changing politics meant keeping your head, I suppose the vicar in question had a good reason for changing, whether through expedience or enlightenment.

Like Bob and Don, I've known that song forever. But then, Bob and Don and John all probably sang it together, didn't they? ;-D

SRS


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: goatfell
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM

oh please don't call me goaty I'm not a bloody beard ok.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Effsee
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 10:23 PM

If I thought you were a beard I would have said Goatee!


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: giles earle
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 10:35 AM

When George in pudding time came o'er

Apparently to come in pudding time = at the last minute, but in perfect time for what follows. Puddings being, historically, savoury rather than sweet and served as the first course of a meal.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 09:49 AM

Thanks for the info on that Giles ,interesting how we now associate pudding more with sweet rather than savory ,and , in England at least , "afters" . I remember when I lived there when dinner was over we would ask what was for afters or what was for pudding. Sorry I didn't reply to your post in pudding time by the way .


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:26 AM

There are still people in Yorkshire who serve Yorkshire pudding as a first course ! Last time I had it , it was delicious !


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 10:37 AM

I'd love to try Yorkshire pudding in Yorkshire sometime. I remember eating it when I was in London and it was delicious but imagine that Yorkshire would be the place to go to get the real thing.
Is this what they mean by thread creep by the way ? Are there any threads on the site devoted entirely to thread creep ? It's sort of a bit like the folking process going on here isn't it - from the Vicar of Bray to Yorkshire pudding .


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,Chris Murray
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 03:32 PM

I serve Yorkshire pudding as a first course. It has to be cooked in a big slab - none of your little puddings.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 29 Jun 09 - 05:15 PM

Are there any threads on the site devoted entirely to thread creep ?

Seems to me that the Mother of all (etc) thread is exclusively thread creep.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: nickp
Date: 30 Jun 09 - 04:19 AM

Never met him meself - a bit before my time.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE VICAR OF BRAY (1736)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 09:37 PM

Apparently there has never been a thread about THE VICAR OF BRAY, although it is in the DT, and has been posted several times (A, B, C, D, E) in threads about other topics, including some BS threads.

The oldest copy of the lyrics I can find is in The London Magazine: and Monthly Chronologer, January 1736, page 37:

Note that this version is considerably different from the others, especially, by having 2 additional verses.


The Vicar of Bray. A Ballad, To the Tune of the Turncoat.

I.
OF Bray the vicar long I 've been
And many a test and trial
I 've stood, and various changes seen,
Yet never prov'd disloyal.
For with the crown I always clos'd,
Whatever person wore it,
And ev'ry oath the state impos'd,
I most devoutly swore it.
For this is what I will maintain
Unto my dying day still ;
That whatsoever king shall reign,
I 'll be the
vicar of Bray still.

II.
In Charles the second's jovial days,
When loy'lty had no harm in 't ;
An high flown royalist I was,
And so I got preferment.
To teach my flock I never miss'd,
Kings were by God appointed ;
And they were damn'd that shou'd resist,
Or touch the Lord's anointed.
For this is what I will, &c.

III.
When royal James obtain'd the crown,
And popery came in fashion,
The penal laws I voted down,
And read the declaration.
The church of Rome, I found, wou'd fit
Full well my constitution,
And had become a jesuit,
But for the revolution.
For this is what I will, &c.

IV.
When William, he was king declar'd
To cure the nation's grievance,
With this new wind about I veer'd,
And swore to him allegiance.
Old doctrines then I did revoke,
Set conscience at a distance,
Passive-obedience was a joke,
A jest was non-resistance.
For this is what I will, &c.

V.
When Anne became our gracious queen,
The church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
So I became a tory.
Occasional conformists base
I damn'd, and moderation,
And prov'd the church in danger was
From such prevarication.
For this is what I will, &c.

VI.
When George the first to rule came o'er
And moderate men look'd big, Sir,
I turn'd the cat i' th' pan once more,
And I became a whig, Sir ;
Thus new preferments I procur'd
From that great faith's defender,
And almost ev'ry day abjur'd
The Pope and the Pretender.
For this is what I will, &c.

VII.
From first, to second George secure
The crown is now descended ;
For in that righteous title, sure!
No flaw can be pretended.
So my old coat will serve me still
With little alteration ;
And he's a rogue that turn it will,
When there is no occasion,
For this is what I will, &c.

VIII.
And now the line of Hanover,
And protestant succession,
For these I 'll preach, and pray, and swear,
While they can keep possession :
Thus in my faith and loyalty
No man can say, I faulter,
And Frederick perchance may be
My king, if times don't alter.
For this is what I will maintain
Unto my dying day still,
That whatsoever king shall reign,
I 'll be the
vicar of Bray still.


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Subject: Lyr Add: TIME SERVER OR VICAR OF BRAY (Bodleian)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM

From the Bodleian Library Ballad Collection, Douce Ballads 4(49), where the broadside is dated "between 1790 and 1813":


THE TIME SERVER;
OR,
Vicar of Bray.

Printed and Sold by T. Evans, 79, Long Lane.

[1] OF BRAY the Vicar long I've been
And many a test and trial
I've stood, and various changes seen,
Yet never prov'd disloyal;
For with the Crown, I always clos'd,
Whatever person wore it,
And every oath the state impos'd,
I ne'er scrupl'd to take it.*

CHORUS.
And this is the law I do maintain,
And to the day I die, will,
That whatsoever King shall reign,
I'll be the Vicar of Bray still.

[2] In Charles the Second's golden reign,
When loyalty had no harm i'nt;
A zealous high Churchman I was,
And so I got preferment;
To teach my flock, I never mist,
Kings were by God appointed;
And he was damn'd that should resist,
Or curse the Lord's annointed.
And this is the law, &c.

[3] When Royal James our King became,
And Popery was in fashion,
The penal laws I voted down,
And read the declaration;
The church of Rome, I found would fit,
Full well my constitution,
And I'd been a Jesuite,
But for the revolution.
And this is the law, &c.

[4] When William was our King declar'd
To redress the Nation's grievance,
With this new whim, I then averr'd,
And swore to him allegiance.
Old principles I then revok'd,
Set conscience at a distance,
And prov'd religion was a joke,
And a jest of no resistance.
And this is the law, &c.

[5] When Royal Ann our Queen became,
The Church of England's glory,
Another face of things was seen,
So I became a Tory;
Occasional conformists base
I curs'd their moderation,
And prov'd the church in danger was,
By such prevarication.
And this is the law, &c.

[6] When G——ge came o'er in pudding time,
And moderate men look'd big, Sir,
The cat in pan I turn'd again,
And so became a Wig, Sir;
By which preferment I procur'd,
From our great faith's defender,
And almost every day abjur'd
The Pope and the Pretender.
And this is the law, &c.

[7] The illustrious house of Hanover,
And Protestant succession,
To them I lustily will cleave
Whilst they can keep possession,
And in my faith no one shall say
Any ways that I do falter,
For G——ge my rightful King shall be,
Until the times do alter.
And this is the law, &c.

[*Someone has crossed out this line and hand-written "I without scruple swore it" – which corrects the rhyme.]


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 15 Jul 09 - 11:48 PM

From Anglorum speculum, or the Worthies of England, in Church and State by Thomas Fuller, G. S. (London, J. Wright [etc.] 1684):

For Proverbs. One is peculiar to this County, viz: The Vicar of Bray, will be vicar of Bray still. Bray is a Village here, named from the Bibroges, ancient British Inhabitants. The Vivacious Vicar living under Henry 8, Edward 6, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth was a Papist then Protestant, then Papist then Protestant again. He found the Martyrs fire (near Windsor) too hot for his Temper, and being Taxed for a Turn-coat, Not so, said he, for I always kept my Principle, to live and dye the Vicar of Bray. General Proverb.

*

From Athenian Sport: or Two Thousand Paradoxes Merrily Argued, To Amuse and Divert the Age by John Dunton (London: B. Bragg, 1707)

Paradox LXXXVIII.
Vicar of Bray : Or a Paradox in Praise of the Turncoat Clergy.


THAT Clergymen are changeable, and teach
That now, 'gainst which they will to morrow preach,
Is an Undoubted Truth ; but that in this
Their Variation they do ought amiss,
I stedfastly deny : The World we see,
Preserves it self by Mutability ;
And by an Imitation each thing in it
Preserves it self by changing ev'ry minute.
The Heavenly Orbs do move and change, and there's
The much-admired Musick of the Spheres ;
The Sun, the Moon, the Stars do always vary,
The Times turn round still, nothing stationary :
Why then shou'd we blame Clergymen, that do,
Because they're Heavenly, like the Heavens go?
Nay th' Earth it self, on which we tread (they say)
Turns round, and's moving still ; then why not they?
Our Bodies still are changing from our Birth,
Till they return to their first Matter, Earth.
We draw in Air and Food, that Air and Food
Incorporates, and turns our Flesh and Blood :
Then we breathe out our selves in Sweat, and vent
Our Flesh and Blood by Use and Excrement :
With such continual Change, that none can say,
He's the same Man that he was yesterday.
Besides, all Creatures cannot chuse but be
By much the worse for their Stability ;
For standing Pools corrupt, while running Springs
Yield sweet Refreshment to all other things.
The highest Church-things oft'nest change, we know,
The Weathercock that stands o'th' top does so :
The Bells when rung in Changes best do please ;
The Nightingal, that Minstrel of the Trees,
Varies her Note, while the dull Cuckoo sings
Only one Note, no Auditory brings.
Why then shou'd we admire our Levites Change,
Since 'tis their nat'ral Motion ? 'Tis not strange
To see a Fish to swim, or Eagle fly ;
Nor is their Protean Mutability
More worth our wonder, but 'tis so in fashion,
It merits our Applause and Imitation.
But I conclude, lest while I speak of Change,
I shall too far upon one Subject range ;
And so become Unchangeable, and by
My Practice give my Doctrine here the lye.

*

From The Tatler, or Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq Vol. 4, by Richard Steele (London: C. Bathurst et al., 1710).

The Church Thermometer, which I am now to treat of, is supposed to have been invented in the reign of Henry the Eighth, about the Time when that religious Prince put some to Death for owning the Pope's supremacy, and others for denying transubstantiation. I do not find, however, any great use made of this instrument, until it fell into the Hands of a learned and vigilant Priest or Minister, for he frequently wrote himself both the one and the other, who was some time Vicar of Bray. This Gentleman lived in his Vicarage to a good old age; and after having seen several successions of his neighbouring clergy either burnt or banished, departed this life with the satisfaction of having never deserted his flock, and died Vicar of Bray. As this glass was first designed to calculate the different degrees of heat in religion, as it raged in popery, or as it cooled and grew temperate in the Reformation, it was marked at several Distances, after the Manner our ordinary Thermometer is to this Day, viz. "Extreme Hot, Sultry Hot, Very Hot, Hot, Warm, Temperate, Cold, Just Freezing, Frost, Hard Frost, Great Frost, Extreme Cold."


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 04:04 AM

Is this a folksong, tho? Not trying to start yet another definition dispute; but I have ever been struck with how little variation in texts there is in various versions of this, and none that I have ever heard in the tune: far less than one would expect for a true traditional artefact.

The proverb usages noted above are very interesting, in that they seem to predate the time of the song, Charles II - House of Hanover. The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs gives the date of the song as 1720, 70 years earlier than the Douce date noted above in Jim's most helpful post of 15 JUL 09.

But, as I say, the song seems subject to much less variation than one would expect of a true folksong, however one may regard that notoriously slippery locution.

Which leads me to ask, has anyone ever heard or come across any authorial speculation or attribution? And did it indeed much predate the Douce collection broadside version noted above?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 04:18 AM

BTW ~~ re 'pudding time' & 'pudding' as a first course: perhaps worth noting that 'a pudding'

~as well as meaning a sweet course following the main course [now largely superseded by the US usage of dessert, which in UK used to mean the fresh fruit & nut course], or a particular kind of dish often constituting this~

can also mean 'a sausage'; a usage which survives in 'black pudding', and in the old saying 'Everything has an end, and a pudding has two'.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Newport Boy
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 04:57 AM

Richard Dyer-Bennet's sleeve note about The Vicar of Bray said:

"A 19th Century English political broadside ballad. A Canadian music critic, in reviewing one of my concerts, spoke of this song as a 'delightfully witty satire on organized religion'. It is, of course, nothing of the sort, but rather a satire on political opportunism. That the opportunist happens to be a vicar is regrettable."

(Quote from Reprints from Sing Out, Volume 4, 1962)

I might add "... is regrettable, but not surprising".

Phil


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 06:00 AM

& reverting to my post about 'pudding' also, in old-fashioned sense, = 'sausage'; perhaps reason for its use in a rude anatomical connotation!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: EBarnacle
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 08:03 AM

"Cat in pan?" Never recalled hearing this one before.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 08:20 AM

Bray was also the setting for lots of Hammer Horror films. From memory (not always reliable) the company brought the big house at Bray and it stood in for all manner of monstrously decadent homesteads.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: justice
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 08:28 AM

First heard about the good vicar from Theodore Bikel back in the 60s. I swear, that man could sing anything.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: EBarnacle
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 12:34 PM

Dante reserved a special place on the outskirts of Hell for trimmers.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Apr 11 - 05:27 PM

Colin Ellis (1895-1949) brings the song up to date, more sedately having the coat turned only from generation to generation. He begins:

In Queen Victoria's early days,
    When Grandpapa was vicar,
The squire was worldly in his ways,
    And far too fond of liquor.
My grandsire laboured to exhort
    This influential sinner,
As to and fro they passed the port
    On Sunday after dinner.

It's in the New Oxford Book of English Light Verse.


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 25 Apr 11 - 03:25 PM

I used to sing it in primary school, and my parents lived in Berks for a while after I left school, but I never knew it referred to Bray in Berks! The only Bray I know is the one in Ireland, but they don't have "vicars" there!
AS Chris Tarrant used to say on "Millionaire" the questions are easy if you know the answers!


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Vic Smith
Date: 25 Apr 11 - 04:16 PM

In 2011, the role of The Vicar of Bray is brilliantly played by Nick Clegg


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 01:40 PM

Sorry, resurrecting an old thread....

Last week it was my old school's 500th anniversary. One of the events was a concert by some chaps who were there in the 1940s and 50s. There was a tradition at school that every Wednesday the pupils would sing a song from the "Oxford Song Book" after Assembly - the tradition went on at least until the mid 1960s (er, when I was there). The choir recreated this tradition for one day, and this is one of the songs - "The Vicar Of Bray". Splendid stuff IMO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3Tgme4oWM0

Please excuse slight shakiness, I wasn't about to take an enormous tripod into the Assembly Hall!


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Subject: RE: Didn't know the Vicar of Bray
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 03:24 PM

The vicar of Bray
Took a maid for a roll in the hay....

Not that one?

An indolent vicar of bray
Kept his wife in the family way
Till she grew more alert
Bought a vaginal squirt
And said to her spouse, "Let us spray!"

A golden oldie.


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