All things bright and beautiful?

Charles Cowling

Posted by Belinda Forbes

Photo of ‘little friend’ courtesy of Peter Forbes


The sun is shining again here in leafy Berkshire.  The mourners no longer need to huddle for warmth in the crematorium waiting room.  The cruel winter wind that has been whipping across the chapel entrance is now a gentle breeze.  Unfortunately, I’m allergic to tree pollen so it’s not all good news.

Although I am a secular funeral celebrant, I’m often asked if a hymn isallowed.  The most common reason people give for requesting hymns at an essentially non-religious funeral is that they want to sing something.  And for many people the thought of singing something secular is just too daunting.  It is possible of course and we’ve sung along to Always Look on The Bright Side of Life (works best with two or three extroverts leading the singing from the front); Danny Boy and the fiendishly difficult Bridge Over Troubled Water amongst others.

By far the most common hymn requested by my clients is All Things Bright & Beautiful closely followed by Morning Has Broken.  A love of nature andgardening or a desire to have something that ‘isn’t too depressing or sombre’ are  the usual reasons given.

One brave family whose late mother adored her garden asked if we could singIn An English Country Garden.  They didn’t want a choir and all the versions recorded with vocals were either unsuitable or tricky to sing along to.  So we opted for an instrumental version recorded by the Albion Song Society.  To my surprise and delight it went remarkably well.  With a little practice (at home with an understanding friend) to get the timing right, we discovered that it’s easier to sing than All Things Bright & Beautiful.  If any celebrants or choirs out there would like to give it a go, here are the words:

Percy Grainger’s An English Country Garden

How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupin and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden.

How many insects come here and go
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Fireflies, moths, and bees
Spiders climbing in the trees
Butterflies drift in the gentle breeze
There are snails, ants that sting
And other creeping things
In an English country garden.

How many songbirds fly to and fro
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Blackbird, cuckoo and quail
Robin and turtle dove

Bluetit, lark, thrush and nightingale
There is joy in the spring
When the birds begin to sing
In an English country garden.

For those gardeners who would prefer a little more realism, there’s this version of All Things Bright & Beautiful:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful

The Lord God made them all.

But what we never mention

Though gardeners know it’s true

Is when he made the goodies

He made the baddies too

All things spray and swattable

Disasters great and small

All things paraquattable

The Lord God made them all

The fungus on the goose-gogs

The club root on the greens

The slugs that eat the lettuce

And chew the aubergines

All things spray…

The drought that kills the fuchsias

The frost that nips the buds

The rain that drowns the seedlings

The blight that hits the spuds

All things spray…

The midges and mosquitoes

The nettles and the weeds

The pigeons in the green stuff

The sparrows on the seeds

All things spray…

The fly that gets the carrots

The wasp that eat the plums

How black the gardener’s outlook

Though green may be his thumbs

All things spray…

But still we gardeners labour

Midst vegetables and flowers

And pray what hits our neighbours

Will somehow bypass ours

All things spray…

 

 

5 thoughts on “All things bright and beautiful?

  1. Charles Cowling
    Belinda Forbes

    David – I would love to sing it again and you’re welcome to watch! A certain assistant manager tried to listen in from the CCTV room but I moved away from the microphone so he couldn’t hear me!


    Charles Cowling
  2. Charles Cowling
    David Holmes

    Next time you do this I would definitely like to watch (and listen) please Belinda.

    How do you avoid looking like Joyce Grenfell? 🙂 Or doesn’t it matter!


    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Evelyn

    Isn’t ‘little friend’ so cute! Clever Mr Forbes. Thank you thank you for the alternative ATB&B – that’s going straight in the ‘alternative words’ folder along with that ‘My favourite things’ song… 🙂


    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling
    Belinda Forbes

    Sorry Sweetpea – I don’t know who wrote it. I found it on t’internet, on a gardening site!


    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling
    sweetpea

    Fantastic, Belinda! One for my folder of goodies. Do you know who wrote it?


    Charles Cowling

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