Friday, June 4, 2010

New hymn stanza by one of my CHS student

Some of you will be familiar with the ancient hymn attributed to St. Andrew of Crete, Christian dost thou see them (a favorite of Dorothy Sayers, incidentally). The ancient hymn writer and Alexandrian teacher explores the various ways temptation comes at us--through seeing, hearing, feeling. It seems to me to explore in poetry what Lewis explores in prose, so I've been including it in my teaching of his classic anatomy of temptation, Screwtape Letters. Lewis quotes a line ("All those fasts and vigils") from this hymn, which has led me to the conclusion that they sang this hymn at the worship service at Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry, where Lewis tells us the ideas for Screwtape were hatched (On one of my visits to Lewis's church, I asked the then vicar, Tom Honey if he thought it was a valid theory. He heartily--heartily enough for me--agreed).

This is a real crack-up. One of my delightfully witty students, an accomplished cellist (my favorite stringed instrument), and poet, while preparing for her final exam in my English class today, felt like St. Andrew of Crete had not sufficiently explored all the human senses and so penned a new stanza. Here it is:

Christian dost thou smell them
With a stench so foul?
Spreading heinous odors
While they're on the prowl?
Christian do not sniff them!
By no means inhale;
Turn your nose toward heaven;
Let righteousness prevail!

Kristianna Anderson (11th grade, on left above, with her sister Mary at Canterbury in April, 2010)