Vicar of Bray

Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

In good King Charles's golden times
When loyalty no harm meant
A furious High Church man was I
And so I gained preferment
Unto my flock I daily preached
"Kings are by God appointed
And damned are those who dare resist
Or touch the Lord's anointed"

This is the law that I'll maintain
Until my dying day, sir
That whatsoever king shall reign
I'll still be Vicar of Bray, sir

When Royal James possessed 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

When William our deliverer came
To heal the nation's grievance
I turned my face around 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

When glorious Anne became our queen
The Church of England's glory
Another face of things was seen
And I became a Tory
Occasional conformists base
I damned, and moderation,
And thought the Church in danger was
From such prevarication

When George in pudding time came o'er
And moderate men looked big, sir
My principles I changed once more
And so became a Whig, sir
And thus preferment I procured
From our faith's great defender
And almost every day abjured
The Pope, and the Pretender

The illustrious House of Hanover
And Protestant succession
To these I lustily will swear
Whilst they can keep possession
For in my faith and loyalty
I never once will falter
And George my lawful king shall be -
Until the times should alter


Song Notes

I don't sing this but I love it. It is as relevant to today's political opportunists as it was when it was written and I think of it every time I see some MP who I remember spouting "right-on" Socialist noises in the '70s and '80s, now loudly proclaiming the glories of New Labour. No doubt if the Labour Party ever decides to embrace Socialist principles again, these same Blairite converts will immediately realise the error of their previous ways and begin preaching the benefits of renationalisation.


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