The Choir Observed

The recent introduction of a new chorister to the congregation has reminded Marianne Atkinson of a poem written by her husband Howard, whose work in various media has been the subject of an exhibition in Brewhouse Yard. It was probably inspired by the choir of St Peter's in 1984. Does it still apply to the choir today? Plus ça change...

Choir boys and choir girls
are full of joy and can't sit still.
I watch them when in church and wonder
at their innocence. The thunder
of the organ cannot quell
youth's exuberance, nor fear of hell
put aside the games they hide
from public view within the pew.

Through the sermon the basses nod
and trebles do not think of God
but wag their fingers at each other
or write letters to their mother.

But when they rise to sing the anthem
sure 'twas angels, think I, that begat them!

Howard Atkinson
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 5th July 1997