Royal British Legion members from Little Mynd, near Rochdale, have been denied the chance to sing their favourite song during their annual attendance at church.
The row erupted as the hymn Onward Christian Soldiers was controversially omitted from this year’s Remembrance service. The vicar of St Wurfitt’s church, the Rev Daley Praze, remarked that the popular hymn, the chorus of which reads like an anthem for a Crusade, was inappropriate for modern times.
“Of course, the whole hymn is an expression of the fight of good against evil,” remarked Rev Praze. “It has nothing to do with literal wars or soldiers. It has been wrongly appropriated by those who fail to hear the hymn’s message.”
Little Mynd’s Legion president, Arthur Brain, said “The new trendy vicar is not happy with Onward Christian Soldiers being sung. It’s been done nearly every year in recent memory but he said they’re not doing it because not everyone at the service will be Christians – it’s not the ‘soldiers’ bit, it’s the ‘Christian’ bit. It’s political correctness gone mad.”
Mr Brain is planning to boycott the event, disrespecting the fallen because it is more important that he gets to sing his favourite song.
“My granddad didn’t fight in The War so his grandson could miss out on singing this important hymn!” he exclaims. “We are seriously thinking about standing outside the church and singing it instead. Well, only the first verse because that’s all I can remember. The rest is rubbish about Satan and stuff, but it’s the principle at stake here.”
You could almost hear the sound of the Rev Praze’s eyes rolling.
“Mr Brain comes to church once a year,” he said in an exasperated voice. “He doesn’t even come at Christmas. He prefers to get trollied on cheap beer in the Legion, but thinks he can dictate matters just because he sells plastic poppies every autumn.”
Meanwhile St Wurfitt’s church is welcoming irate people of all faiths, and none, to phone up the blameless parish administrator and stop her doing her job.