Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

NB When I was a kid, school assemblies began with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. These were generally solemn and serious affairs. By the time I got to high school, for some reason the Lord’s Prayer had been set to music. For me, this stripped away its gravitas and gave it a distinctly comedic flavour.

I went to a private high school for boys. It was supposed to be non-denominational, but our weekly assemblies had a distinctly Christian vibe and some of our guest speakers were disturbingly evangelical. For instance, an ancient missionary guy used to come every year and hand out tiny red bibles before regaling us with a song about the Holy Land. The song was a horrible dirge made infinitely worse by this guy belting it out at full volume, almost as if there was a cash reward for blowing up the PA system. The refrain was a jarring “JERRRUUU-SALEM! JERRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUU-SALEM!” The entire school cringed in collective embarrassment, and there was always an awful stunned silence at the end. No one ever applauded; we never seemed to figure out how to respond. One year some nameless student spoke for everyone when he whispered too loudly, “What the fuck was that?”

Every Monday, we opened assembly by singing either the Lord’s Prayer or the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I always thought the latter was a very odd choice for an Aussie school. We sang accompanied by the school band. Our version of the Lord’s Prayer was an up-tempo rock ‘n roll lite affair that I just couldn’t take seriously. One particular morning as we geared up to sing it, one of the band’s guitarists substituted the usual bland intro with his own improvised grinding/wailing riff. Whether he meant it as blasphemy or parody I don’t know, but it was obviously an unsanctioned move because it drew dark looks from our strict old headmaster. I completely lost my shit. The rest of the song proceeded as usual, with everyone singing along. No one in the peanut gallery seemed to find that guitar intro as funny as I did. Even if I’d wanted to join in – which I never did – I couldn’t because I was practically crying with laughter.

The song finished and I still hadn’t recovered. Then one of the band guys tacked on a glorious, single-note outro on a glockenspiel. I totally lost my shit again. There were a few scattered giggles around the assembly hall as the headmaster did his best to murder the glockenspiel guy with his eyes. The look of outrage on his face was priceless; I was desperately trying to keep my sides from going into orbit. My muffled snorts and heaving shoulders caught the attention of my biology teacher who gave me a verbal warning.

To this day I can’t hear the Lord’s Prayer without cracking up.

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Posted by H.R. van Adel in Personal, 0 comments