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7

THERES NOTHING LIKE a blood-curdling hymn to make you feel at home, thought Jean Louise. Any sense of isolation she may have had withered and died in the presence of some two hundred sinners earnestly requesting to be plunged beneath a red, redeeming flood. While offering to the Lord the results of Mr. Cowpers hallucination, or declaring it was Love that lifted her, Jean Louise shared the warmness that prevails among diverse individuals who find themselves in the same boat for one hour each week.

She was sitting beside her aunt in the middle pew on the right side of the auditorium; her father and Dr. Finch sat side by side on the left, third row from the front. Why they did it was a mystery to her, but they had sat there together ever since Dr. Finch returned to Maycomb. Nobody would take them for brothers, she thought. Its hard to believe hes ten years older than Uncle Jack.

Atticus Finch looked like his mother; Alexandra and John Hale Finch looked like their father. Atticus was a head taller than his brother, his face was broad and open with a straight nose and wide thin mouth, but something about the three marked them as kin. Uncle Jack and Atticus are getting white in the same places and their eyes are alike, thought Jean Louise: thats what it is. She was correct. All the Finches had straight incisive eyebrows and heavy-lidded eyes; when they looked slant-wise, up, or straight ahead, a disinterested observer would catch a glimpse of what Maycomb called Family Resemblance.

Her meditations were interrupted by Henry Clinton. He had passed one collection plate down the pew behind her, and while waiting for its mate to return via the row she was sitting on, he winked openly and solemnly at her. Alexandra saw him and looked blue murder. Henry and his fellow usher walked up the center aisle and stood reverently in front of the altar.

Immediately after collection, Maycomb Methodists sang what they called the Doxology in lieu of the minister praying over the collection plate to spare him the rigors involved in inventing yet another prayer, since by that time he had uttered three healthy invocations. From the time of Jean Louises earliest ecclesiastical recollection, Maycomb had sung the Doxology in one way and in one way only:

Praise-God-from-whom-all-blessings-flow,

a rendition as much a tradition of Southern Methodism as Pounding the Preacher. That Sunday, Jean Louise and the congregation were in all innocence clearing their throats to drag it accordingly when out of a cloudless sky Mrs. Clyde Haskins crashed down on the organ

PraiseGodfromwhomall Bles-sings-Flo-w

PraiseHimallcreatures He-re Bee-low

PraiseHimaboveye Heavn-ly Ho-st

PraiseFatherSonand Ho-ly Gho-st!

In the confusion that followed, if the Archbishop of Canterbury had materialized in full regalia Jean Louise would not have been in the least surprised: the congregation had failed to notice any change in Mrs. Haskinss lifelong interpretation, and they intoned the Doxology to its bitter end as they had been reared to do, while Mrs. Haskins romped madly ahead like something out of Salisbury Cathedral.

Jean Louises first thought was that Herbert Jemson had lost his mind. Herbert Jemson had been music director of the Maycomb Methodist Church for as long as she could remember. He was a big, good man with a soft baritone, who ruled with easy tact a choir of repressed soloists, and who had an unerring memory for the favorite hymns of District Superintendents. In the sundry church wars that were a living part of Maycomb Methodism, Herbert could be counted on as the one person to keep his head, talk sense, and reconcile the more primitive elements of the congregation with the Young Turk faction. He had devoted thirty years spare time to his church, and his church had recently rewarded him with a trip to a Methodist music camp in South Carolina.

Jean Louises second impulse was to blame it on the minister. He was a young man, a Mr. Stone by name, with what Dr. Finch called the greatest talent for dullness he had ever seen in a man on the near side of fifty. There was nothing whatever wrong with Mr. Stone, except that he possessed all the necessary qualifications for a certified public accountant: he did not like people, he was quick with numbers, he had no sense of humor, and he was butt-headed.

Because Maycombs church had for years not been large enough for a good minister but too big for a mediocre one, Maycomb was delighted when, at the last Church Conference, the authorities decided to send its Methodists an energetic young one. But after less than a year the young minister had impressed his congregation to a degree that moved Dr. Finch to observe absently and audibly one Sunday: We asked for bread and they gave us a Stone.

Mr. Stone had long been suspected of liberal tendencies; he was too friendly, some thought, with his Yankee brethren; he had recently emerged partially damaged from a controversy over the Apostles Creed; and worst of all, he was thought to be ambitious. Jean Louise was building up an airtight case against him when she remembered Mr. Stone was tone deaf.

Unruffled by Herbert Jemsons breach of allegiance, because he had not heard it, Mr. Stone rose and walked to the pulpit with Bible in hand. He opened it and said, My text for today is taken from the twenty-first chapter of Isaiah, verse six:

For thus hath the Lord said unto me,

Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

Jean Louise made a sincere effort to listen to what Mr. Stones watchman saw, but in spite of her efforts to quell it, she felt amusement turning into indignant displeasure and she stared straight at Herbert Jemson throughout the service. How dare he change it? Was he trying to lead them back to the Mother Church? Had she allowed reason to rule, she would have realized that Herbert Jemson was Methodist of the whole cloth: he was notoriously short on theology and a mile long on good works.

The Doxologys gone, theyll be having incense next-orthodoxys my doxy. Did Uncle Jack say that or was it one of his old bishops? She looked across the aisle toward him and saw the sharp edge of his profile: hes in a snit, she thought.

Mr. Stone droned a Christian can rid himself of the frustrations of modern living by coming to Family Night every Wednesday and bringing a covered dish abide with you now and forevermore, Amen.

Mr. Stone had pronounced the benediction and was on his way to the front door when she went down the aisle to corner Herbert, who had remained behind to shut the windows. Dr. Finch was faster on the draw:

shouldnt sing it like that, Herbert, he was saying. We are Methodists after all, D.V.

Dont look at me, Dr. Finch. Herbert threw up his hands as if to ward off whatever was coming. Its the way they told us to sing it at Camp Charles Wesley.

You arent going to take something like that lying down, are you? Who told you to do that? Dr. Finch screwed up his under lip until it was almost invisible and released it with a snap.

The music instructor. He taught a course in what was wrong with Southern church music. He was from New Jersey, said Herbert.

He did, did he?

Yes sir.

Whatd he say was wrong with it?

Herbert said: He said we might as well be singing Stick your snout under the spout where the Gospel comes out as most of the hymns we sing. Said they ought to ban Fanny Crosby by church law and that Rock of Ages was an abomination unto the Lord.

Indeed?

He said we ought to pep up the Doxology.

Pep it up? How?

Like we sang it today.

Dr. Finch sat down in the front pew. He slung his arm across the back and moved his fingers meditatively. He looked up at Herbert.

Apparently, he said, apparently our brethren in the Northland are not content merely with the Supreme Courts activities. They are now trying to change our hymns on us.

Herbert said, He told us we ought to get rid of the Southern hymns and learn some other ones. I dont like it-ones he thought were pretty dont even have tunes.

Dr. Finchs Hah! was crisper than usual, a sure sign that his temper was going. He retrieved it sufficiently to say, Southern hymns, Herbert? Southern hymns?

Dr. Finch put his hands on his knees and straightened his spine to an upright position.

Now, Herbert, he said, let us sit quietly in this sanctuary and analyze this calmly. I believe your man wishes us to sing the Doxology down the line with nothing less than the Church of England, yet he reverses himself-reverses himself-and wants to throw out Abide with Me?

Right.

Lyte.

Er-sir?

Lyte, sir. Lyte. What about When I Survey the Wondrous Cross?

Thats another one, said Herbert. He gave us a list.

Gave you a list, did he? I suppose Onward, Christian Soldiers is on it?

At the top.

Hur! said Dr. Finch. H. F. Lyte, Isaac Watts, Sabine Baring-Gould.

Dr. Finch rolled out the last name in Maycomb County accents: long as, is, and a pause between syllables.

Every one an Englishman, Herbert, good and true, he said. Wants to throw them out, yet tries to make us sing the Doxology like we were all in Westminster Abbey, does he? Well, let me tell you something

Jean Louise looked at Herbert, who was nodding agreement, and at her uncle, who was looking like Theobald Pontifex.

your mans a snob, Herbert, and thats a fact.

He was sort of a sissy, said Herbert.

Ill bet he was. Are you going along with all this nonsense?

Heavens no, said Herbert. I thought Id try it once, just to make sure of what Id already guessed. Congregationll never learn it. Besides, I like the old ones.

So do I, Herbert, said Dr. Finch. He rose and hooked his arm through Jean Louises. Ill see you this time next Sunday, and if I find this church risen one foot off the ground Ill hold you personally responsible.

Something in Dr. Finchs eyes told Herbert that this was a joke. He laughed and said, Dont worry, sir.

Dr. Finch walked his niece to the car, where Atticus and Alexandra were waiting. Want a lift? she said.

Of course not, said Dr. Finch. It was his habit to walk to and from church every Sunday, and this he did, undeterred by tempests, boiling sun, or freezing weather.

As he turned to go, Jean Louise called to him. Uncle Jack, she said. What does D.V. mean?

Dr. Finch sighed his you-have-no-education-young-woman sigh, raised his eyebrows, and said: Deo volente. God willin, child. God willin. A reliable Catholic utterance.


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