Farmer Joe

Richard B Gillion
written for Badminton Road Methodist Church's 40th Anniversary in Feb 1999

I'll tell 'ee the tale of Farmer Joe;
Hear this and get the gist,
For Farmer Joe, for all his faults,
He was a Methodist.

He loved the hymns he'd learned from young,
And knew them off by heart;
He'd sing them while he milked the cows,
Each verse, right from the start.

Throughout his life-long working years
He'd coped with many a change;
His chickens reared with all mod cons,
Then fashion changed: free range.

He'd tractors now where once his dad
Used horses for the plough;
And combine harvesters replacing
Twenty labourers now.

In place of Grandad's carrier pigeons,
His dad a phone installed.
But Joe'd computer voice fax mail
To handle all his calls.

Though Joe used every modern means
To improve efficiency,
There was another side of him,
He was a Methodist you see.

On Sunday off he went to church
Not one week ever missed,
With hymn book tucked beneath his arm 
He was Methodist.

His great great grandfather it was,
Built a chapel on that spot,
Until in 1893
It suffered from dry rot.

With one will they planned a new one
But grandad he did say:
"Over my dead body!"
He lies there to this day.

"I've seen so many changes,"
Said Joe in t'Youth Club hall,
"And all throughout my chapel life,
I've been against them all."

He'd seen so many changes,
With different preachers' whims,
His secret way to cope with them?
"At least I've got my hymns."

But home he came at 12 o'clock,
One Sunday fit to bust,
For four and twenty minutes
He fumed and stomped and cussed.
His wife looked on in horror.
What change had been embraced?
Visions of guitars and banners,
Through her mind they raced.

When his angry mood subsided,
When his pigs and sheep he'd fed.
She asked what had upset him,
But Joe just shook his head.

It wasn't what the preacher said,
Not choruses or banners.
The Junior Church were well behaved
And the stewards minded their manners.

It was during his all-time favourite hymn,
In t'new hymn book you see,
The editors of Hymns & Psalms had dotted
A crochet in line three.

He vowed he'd never go again,
Not if he lived for years.
Even when the stewards called
And begged him with their tears.

But after missing two whole weeks
The Spirit was too strong,
Besides he missed the fellowship
And raising his voice in song.

The years rolled on and anniversaries
Came and went and came,
And Joe's still very loyal,
Though things aren't quite the same.

They've clarinets and banjos now,
And banners on the wall;
Joe's come to terms with every change,
Though been against them all.

He speaks in tongues and dances,
Uses a laser visual aid.
Hires rock bands for the church weekend,
What progress he has made!

But to his dying day, it seems,
He'll never, ever see
Why anyone should ever dot
That crochet in line three.