Not That ‘Happy’

HoopoeWell-intentioned vicar Dick Keith of St Eormengyth’s Church in the Isle of Thanet generated concern and dismay at the Easter service this morning. The priest — perhaps inspired by the BBC television series ‘Rev’, and apparently hoping to piggy-back on the viral success of clergy seen singing reformulated pop songs and dancing at weddings — instructed a churchwarden to be sure to videorecord the sermon this morning. Upon ascending the pulpit, the culturally tone-deaf clergyman burst into a specially composed version of the pop song “Happy.”

Unfortunately for him, and for the congregation, the vicar of St Eormengyth’s knew that people from all ages, all nations, and all occupations had made videos miming along to the hit song — but he confused the Oscar-nominated ditty by American rapper Pharrell Williams with the forty-year old single from the Rolling Stones’ album Exile on Main St.:

Never kept a wafer past sunset
Always drained the chalice right down
Never made a bishop happy
Never got a post in a market town

I need God’s love to keep me happy
I need God’s love to keep me happy
Jesus, Saviour keep me happy
Jesus, Saviour keep me happy

Always gave communion to strangers
Didn’t want to baptise no babe
Never want to be like Pilate
Crucifying lads every night and day

The performance reportedly went on for several further verses, as horrified Easter visitors made hasty departures and dismayed parishioners looked on. Local resident Arianna Worth-Portentous noted that although the congregation had been dwindling over the years of the vicar’s tenure, she was not convinced that this was the most promising way of evangelising the community. ‘The parish has seen much better days,’ she intoned, ‘but it would be better if someone would stand up and be counted, someone with a sanctified mind.’

The vicar himself was undaunted by the unexpectedly tepid response to his plan. ‘Ministry in the twentieth century requires us to go out on limbs sometimes, and some stodgy traditionalists aren’t ready to reach out to today’s young people in their own way. A prophet is not without honour, except in St Eormengyth’s, I guess.’

The churchwarden who recorded the ‘sermon’ declined to make a copy available to the press, noting that he had been instructed by the diocesan chancellor to embargo it pending action in consistory court. The recording was played once before a small group of local journalists, one of whom indicated that ‘[“Happy”] would no longer be her favourite tune’.

Mick Jagger could not be reached for comment, but a representative said that he was sympathetic.

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