The Vicar of Bray is an old English song about a pastor who changes his views to fit the regime, his primary goal in life and fundamental principle being to remain the vicar of Bray. The man is often invoked in discussions of church affairs, for reasons you’ll guess.

I’d never heard the musical setting:

Here are the words, taken from the Wikipedia entry , which includes footnotes explaining the references:


In good King Charles’s golden days,

When Loyalty no harm meant;

A Zealous High-Church man I was,

And so I gain’d Preferment.

Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,

Kings are by God appointed,

And Damn’d are those who dare resist,

Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.

And this is law, I will maintain

Unto my Dying Day, Sir.

That whatsoever King may reign,

I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!

When Royal James possest the crown,

And popery grew in fashion;

The Penal Law I shouted down,

And read the Declaration:

The Church of Rome I found would fit

Full well my Constitution,

And I had been a Jesuit,

But for the Revolution.

And this is Law, &c.

When William our Deliverer came,

To heal the Nation’s Grievance,

I turn’d the Cat in Pan again,

And swore to him Allegiance:

Old Principles I did revoke,

Set conscience at a distance,

Passive Obedience is a Joke,

A Jest is non-resistance.

And this is Law, &c.

When Royal Ann became our Queen,

Then Church of England’s Glory,

Another face of things was seen,

And I became a Tory:

Occasional Conformists base

I Damn’d, and Moderation,

And thought the Church in danger was,

From such Prevarication.

And this is Law, &c.

When George in Pudding time came o’er,

And Moderate Men looked big, Sir,

My Principles I chang’d once more,

And so became a Whig, Sir.

And thus Preferment I procur’d,

From our Faith’s great Defender

And almost every day abjur’d

The Pope, and the Pretender.

And this is Law, &c.

The Illustrious House of Hannover,

And Protestant succession,

To these I lustily will swear,

Whilst they can keep possession:

For in my Faith, and Loyalty,

I never once will faulter,

But George, my lawful king shall be,

Except the Times shou’d alter.

And this is Law, &c.

Credit to the conservative Anglican site Let Nothing You Dismay for the link.

Articles by David Mills

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