Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Insert [Church Name] Here

Edward Perronet, author of the beloved hymn All Hail the Power of Jesu's Name,* once wrote:

I was born and I am like to die in the tottering communion of the Church of England; but I despise her nonsense.

Pretty much says it all, dunnit?  Sub in "Lutheran" or "Roman Catholic" or "Methodist" as appropriate, and tell us it doesn't describe your own experience.

Or maybe that's what Perronet said.  That's certainly how it is quoted in Albert Bailey's classic The Gospel in Hymns, in Tyerman's 1872 biography of John Wesley, and widely on the net.

But the Dictionary of National Biography traces it to a 1756 booklet by Perronet, called The Mitre: A Sacred Poem, which it calls "a dull and virulent attack on the Church of England."  The DNB gives the quotation differently:  "... a member of the Church of England."  No tottering.  Sadly, Google Books does not make The Mitre available, even in snippet view, so we cannnot confirm the original language.

We prefer tottering.  It has more flair.

*Yes, that's where the apostrophe went when he wrote it.

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