Now join in hearty chorus while I sing my homely rhyme,
And you shall hear how things went on in good old Catholic time,
When England was a merry land, her sons were brave and free,
And innocence kept company with mirth and jollity.
Chorus: And thus they pass’d a merry time, as ev’ry one may know, when our old Catholic Fathers lived a long time ago.
For what concerned a man’s belief there needed no great search,
They knew but one high road to Heav’n, and that was thro’ the Church,
A Church that priz’d the humble man, and held him full as dear
As those of high and noble blood, with all their costly gear.
Then ev’ry man profess’d himself the Church’s faithful son,
And fearlessly she taught them all their duties ev’ry one,
With tender hearts for brethren poor, with free and open hand,
A noble and frank respect for the gentry of the land.
They knelt beneath the self-some roof and said the self-some prayer,
And all alike, both rich and poor, could meet as brothers there,
For ev’ry place was free to all of high or low degree,
They felt at home as children do around their mother’s knee.
And when they heard the ‘Angelus Bell’ ring over hill and dale
The blacksmith stopp’d his hammer and the thresher stopp’d his flail,
They doff’d their caps and cross’s their breasts with meek and pious care,
And never thought a moment lost when spent in fervent prayer.
Full well the homeless wand’rer knew he had not long to wait,
If he could but contrive to reach the nearest convent gate;
The trav’ler worn was welcom’d there with kindly Christian glee,
And cheerful monks perform’d the rites of hospitality.
They lov’d their Pope, they lov’d their King, they lov’d their freedom too,
Their hands were quick for action and their hearts were staunch and true,
They dearly lov’d their merry land, its customs and its laws,
Right glad to fight for England’s flag and bleed for England’s cause.
Then happy both for high and low shall be the moment when
We see in this our merry land those bright days come again;
And if we strive to live the life our fathers lived of yore,
Old England once again may be what England was before.
Chorus: Oh! then we’ll pass a merry time, as ev’ry one may know, when our old Catholic Fathers lived a long time ago.
– From the time when the Catholic Faith was outlawed in England (18th century), Broughton Charitable Society, published in Dom F. O.Blundell O.S.B., Old Catholic Lancashire, Vol. 1, Burns Oates & Washbourne Ltd., London, 1925