Contra my griping immediately below, last evening I heard a lovely olde carole on the radio that I honestly do not recall having heard before, although many of you no doubt have.  Entitled “Carol For New Year’s Day”, it goes like this:

The old year now away is fled/the new year now is entered; Then let us now our sins down tread/And joyfully all appear.  Let’s merry be this holiday/And let us run with sport and play/Hang sorrow, let’s cast care away/ God send you a happy new year.

And now, with new years gifts, each friend/Unto each other they do send; God grant we may our lives amend/And that the truth may appear. Now like the snake cast off your skin/Of evil thoughts and wicked sin, And to amend this new year begin/God send us a merry new year.

And now let all the company/In friendly manner all agree/ For we are here welcome all may see/ Unto this jolly good cheer. I think my master and my dame/The which are founders of the same, To eat, to drink now is no shame — God send us a merry new year.

Come lads and lasses, every one/ Jack, Tom, Dick, Bess, Mary and Joan/ Let’s cut the meat unto the bone/For welcome you need not fear.  And here for good liquor we shall not lack/ It will whet my brains and strengthen my back/ This jolly good cheer it must go to wrack/ God send us a merry new year.

Come, give us more liquor when I do call/ I’ll drink to each one in this hall/ I hope so loud I must not bawl/ But unto me lend an ear. Good fortune to my master send/ And to my dame which is our friend/ God bless us all, and so I end— And God send us a happy new year.

I was absolutely enchanted by the delightful Cavalier sentiments of the song (one source dates it from the early 1640’s), and the direct appeal to God at the end of each verse went right to ol’ Robbo’s heart.

Of course, God didn’t send a happy new year, and surely anyone singing this carol in the England of 1642 would know it was unlikely.  Instead, He sent Cromwell and his bloody-minded Puritans to plunge the kingdom into civil war.   But perhaps it’s in such times that these attitudes become most important.  What was it C.S. Lewis said was the true meaning of kingship?  To be first in every charge and last in every retreat, and when the kingdom was suffering from famine to put on one’s brightest clothes and be as merry as possible (or words to that effect).

I have a friend whom I think of as a “bunker Catholic”.  (In fact, he was my sponsor when I was received into the Church.)  He’s convinced that Western Civilization is about to be wiped off the face of the Earth and that the remnants of Christianity will be reduced to something approaching the Early Church, with small bands scurrying about the equivalent of the catacombs, hunted, persecuted, martyred, but all the purer for sticking to their Faith in the face of such adversity.  He takes a grim relish in this prospect, and almost literally rubs his hands in anticipation of the Doom about to drop on the heads of those around him.  Personally, I consider this attitude to be extremely unhealthy as well as uncharitable.   I have my own doubts about the survival of the West from time to time, but even if the worst comes to naught, I don’t think spitting poison -even at deserving enemies – is the proper response.