A Hymn by Chesterton for the Royals

The Kansas City Royals have lost seven in a row. The worst of it (so far) was a humiliating four-game sweep at the hands of the Angels, a series in which the Angels started Jason Vargas, Jerome Williams, Joe Blanton, and, perhaps worst of all, Billy Buckner. Buckner was a former Royals prospect traded away back in 2007, who, until this last game, had not pitched in the majors since 2010. He shut the Royals out for five innings and was promptly sent back down.

Enough of the misery! These are hard times in Royals-land. After years of hard times. It may take divine intervention to restore the wholeness of “Royals Nation” or whatever stupid name people want to give to collective Royals fandom. In hopes of restoration let us turn to the hymnal words of G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), the early twentieth-century English Catholic writer, whose works span philosophy, theology, history, cultural and social criticism, and, yes, poetry, on this day of Chesterton’s birth, which I totally knew about and did not need to be told by someone on Twitter. “Coincidences are life’s spiritual puns,” indeed.

Chesterton is famous for many things, among them his conversion to Catholicism, his opposition to both capitalism and socialism in favor of distributism, and some more controversial issues. I am not a Chesterton expert, nor a Chestertonian. But I am familiar with at least one of his hymns, that I read as a prophetic prayer of supplication regarding the Royals’ current situation. I present the first two verses of O God of Earth and Altar.

O God of earth and altar,

Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,

Our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us,

The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,

But take away our pride.

With my fragmentary commentary:

O God of earth and altar,

Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,

Comment: Can there be any doubt as to who these earthly rulers might be?

Dayton and Ned

Our people drift and die;

Comment: An obvious reference to the bloggers who have been beaten down so much that they have to stop writing about the team; Will McDonald being the obvious example.

The walls of gold entomb us,

Comment: This has multiple meanings. On one hand, it is a reference to ownership’s bizarre off-season comments on the payroll, as well as the Royals (alleged) inability to compete because of the high payroll of other teams. Probably the latter, since the As, an even more money-starved team, have not gone to the playoffs since, wow, it has to be since last fall.

The swords of scorn divide,

Comment: I will let the Twitter stylings of one Rick Wilmes speak for themselves:

Back to Chesterton:

Take not thy thunder from us,

But take away our pride.

Comment: Pride? Ned Yost, speaking to the Kansas City Star about Mike Moustakas’ struggles:

I’ve been in baseball my whole life. I know which kids are going to work and which kids aren’t….I’m going to tell you something, if I’m wrong on this kid, it’ll be the first. I’ve never been wrong on one of these kids who I’ve had conviction with. None of them.

Bonus: A bit of brief commentary on the second verse:

From all that terror teaches,

From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches

That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation

Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,

Deliver us, good Lord.

Comment: The “lies of tongue and pen” is an ironic reference to the totally unfair criticism of the team by bloggers, some of whom deserve to be banned. All the “easy speeches?” “We are not panicking.Instant Gratification, 2009. Instant Gratification, 2013. “They don’t know how to win.

“Deliver us, good Lord,” indeed.

Bigger Bonus: The first verses of the hymn, set to music and sung in unison by thousands of Australians.



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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


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AC of DC
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AC of DC

I think you’re on to something here. Going further, regarding the Royals, who is the “babe in a black abyss”? Who knows “the secret of the Hanged Man”? By whose naughty device is the seed sown in the holy place? Should we expect spinal surgery? And most importantly, who is “the one who will be king, the watcher in the ring”?

Well, as to the last, I guess it is you. It is you.

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