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 Line drawing of vicar in surplicec standing with prayer booke holdingThere was a mixed response to the request for verses on vicars, or in one case a rural dean, with some contributions pro and some anti as well as persiflageous pure or impure fiction.

Damian Balassone reminded us that John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a church fete in 1957, and Robin Helweg-Larsen’s thoughts on such occasions included the sonically memorable line “the girls want glittery stickers”.  Interestingly, only one entrant seems to have cottoned on to the fact that in some denominations the girls have also long donned the dog-collar.

With thanks to all those who took part, below, in no particular order, are the results of the adjudicatory inquisition.

Susanna Clayson: Father Dad

I am a vicar’s daughter, Dad had big plans for me.
Always in hot water, like him, I’m contrary.
God was not his vision, which may surprise a few;
Dad felt this big decision should be made, alone, by you

I am my father’s daughter, we never toed the line.
So when Dad said I ought to, politely, I’d decline,
Do stuff that I did not want to simply because he’d hate it,
Refused to see his point of view and shunned the things he rated.

But then, too soon, he passed away, his voice replaced by silence.
I miss his advice every day and his inverse life guidance.

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C.R. Edenhill: Too Dearly Beloved

In our parish of Trollope-on-Pym
The vicar’s a her not a him
With a missionary zeal to spread love
That has caused some concern high above
Sparked by headlines like ‘steamy’ and ‘shocking’ –
Now she’s facing official defrocking.

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John Wood: A Vicar's Tale

Let's celebrate the vicar's life – though not the one in stories:
The rambling house, the homely wife, the flock of ageing Tories.
With Sundays set aside for rest, deep in rural Surrey.
The world where grandmother knows best and no-one's in a hurry.

The village green was sold to pay for parish church repairs.
The rectory followed, sad to say, despite the Bishop's prayers.
The congregation's swelled of late. The Church School said they thought
The increase might in part relate to a good Ofsted report.

Couples come, who feel they ought, pre-wedding or pre-christening.
The Vicar keeps his sermons short as almost no-one's listening.
Man or woman, young or old, their fabric's surely failing;
His car's a bike, her flat is cold, their friends – the lost and ailing.

Their parish – city streets at night or any place they're needed;
Their motives mocked, their stipend slight, their sacrifice unheeded.
A celebration shouldn't dwell on chinks in sacred armour.
We'll leave those to the flames in Hell and next week's Panorama.

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Martin Parker

Alone in the dark of his Deanery
While surveying his neighbourhood's venery
The old cleric saw
That, of late, more and more
Of his flock thought the Church a has-beenery.

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Mike Mesterton-Gibbons: Hot Under Collar

Have you not wondered why some men of cloth
Object so rarely? Favouring the norm,
They trust they won't incur their elders' wrath
Unduly if they readily conform:
Not only must they pass the curate test,
Discerning parts of bad eggs that are good,
Endorsements also must be reassessed
Routinely, as Bray's Vicar understood ...
Church garb's why they comply! Let me explain:
One's black attire traps heat. One's collared neck
Lets none escape. Heat rises to one's brain.
Lest it get fried, one lets it sleep, on spec ...
And finds oneself affirming what the Lord
Requires of vicars for divine reward!

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John Cooper: The Reverend

Just a dog-collared purveyor
of many a hallowed and dog-eared text.
For some their guide from cradle to grave
for others their guide to what’s next!

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L. A. Mereoie: A Scandalous Affair

Dear Priscilla, rhyming clerics
Aren’t my favourite cup of tea
Plying you with stuff like Herrick’s
Me not there to make a three.

Oh so High Church, Romewards-trending,
Are his sermons on St Paul!
Can there be a happy ending
In this parson-poet’s thrall?

I suspect he’ll soon be ‘poping’
(All the rage, alas, just now.)
If so, things you may be hoping
Simply spell ‘unholy row’.

Him around, I won’t deceive you,
I must, sadly, cut and run.
Pam and Pearl insist I leave you!
Ever yours, John Betjeman.

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Steve Bremner: Let Us Spray

(With apologies to W. H. Auden)

These thirty souls before my nose,
Who "fill" my church's forty rows,
Are snoring Doras, drifting Dans,
And AirPods ear-plugged K-pop Stans.
Stranger, in case my words don't thrill 'em
I've found this souped up aspergillum,
So now when inattention hits,
Though I'm no Canon, I can spritz.

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Freddie Collingwood: Vicars

Sleek in his soutane, biretta
Father Francis, after Mass,
Gives the faithful priestly blessings
At the church door as they pass.
Then it’s time for Sunday luncheon
(Rupert, Riesling and foie gras).

On the new estate four miles off
Jim, the vicar of St Dave’s,
(On his face a smile seraphic,
On his T-shirt, “Jesus Saves”)
Sends his happy-clappy people
On their way with hugs and waves.

Blessings on you, valiant vicars,
Whether High or Low or Broad
Fight the good fight, wage the battles
Win the victory for your Lord.

Cat's head detail from C18 bookplate