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Hear the pennies dropping!

Thoughts of Sunday School and Sunday School songs brings to mind two amusing stories.

I said in my last post that my favorite hymn was This is my Father’s world.  Near the beginning there is a line which reads “All nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres.”

At five years of age, the word “sphere” was unknown to me. I learned a few years later that it referred to a ball shape (which gave me the impression of planets singing as they rolled their way around the sun). But it was not until I was in university and reading Dante that I learned about the Ptolemaic cosmology and discovered the true meaning of the phrase, “music of the spheres”.

All that was in the future though.  As a five-year-old, trying to make some sense of the line, I fastened on the vague auditory similarity of “sphere” and “fairy” and decided it referred to fairy rings.  So for sometime, whenever we sang that hymn, I would visualize a natural setting in which fairies danced and sang.  Sometimes that still seems more appropriate than the intended meaning.

Hexenringe, fairy ring,fairy circle

Fairy ring,fairy circle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other story concerns my sister, though she doesn’t recall it herself.

Pennies in those days were important currency for young children.  They were almost the only coins we got to handle ourselves, and nine times out of ten, they were spent on penny candy.  It was one of the few purchasing decisions we were given and I well remember the intense calculation as to whether to get blackballs (3 for a penny) or spend the whole coin on a single licorice twizzler or candy cane.  It took immense self-discipline to save up the five pennies it would take to purchase a chocolate bar.

candy-150x148

The other use for pennies was as Sunday School collection, a fact alluded to in the best-known children’s offertory hymn of the time.  As the plate was passed around we sang it with gusto!

Hear the pennies dropping. Listen as they fall.
Every one for Jesus, he shall have them all.
Dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping
Hear the pennies fall!
Every one for Jesus.  He shall have them all!

Any way, the story goes that Nadine, then about three, listened in horror, clutched her pennies and protested “No, not all.  He can’t have them all.”

I don’t know if the story is true or not.  Like my walking backward into water story, it seems to be a free-floating meme that attaches itself to whoever is handy.  In this case, exactly the same story appears in my uncle’s family memoir, Pancake Ranch, but the young protestor is my Aunt Lucille and the time is a decade earlier, in the 1930s.

Pancake Ranch

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Sunday School

Neepawa United Church, 2010Photo credit: Jeanette Greaves

Neepawa United Church, 2010
Photo credit: Jeannette Greaves

Neepawa United Church was the place where Nadine and I first attended Sunday School, though the 2010 picture above is probably not what it looked like in 1946.

Personally, I took to Sunday School like a duck to water.  Probably because I loved to sing.  And I loved all the common Sunday School hymns of the time: Jesus Loves Me, God Sees the little sparrow fall, When he cometh and I am so glad (How I loved to belt out the chorus on that one!)

But my truly favorite hymn was This is my Father’s world.  Our children’s version did not include the third verse, which I learned only many years later. Perhaps the line “Although the wrong seems oft so strong..” was deemed unsuitable for the young.  Here is the way I learned it.

This is my Father’s world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world:
he shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

These words were often my personal meditation as I sat under a tree or beside a stream.  And certainly every time I felt the wind blowing through the grass.

It was also at Neepawa United Sunday School that I had my own first moment of ephemeral glory—along with the boy who lived next door to us.  It was a Hallowe’en party and our mothers decided to create an Indian chief and Indian princess costume set for us.  And we won first prize for the best couples’ costume.

Swimming

~~ by Nadine Faye House

When we moved into Neepawa it was to the corner of Brown Ave. and Ellen St. which was only a block from the court house/town hall on Hamilton Street.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The fountain is barely visible at the far left of the picture.

Gail and I used to go paddling in the fountain located there. Our signal to return home was the noon whistle that sounded to let all the work places know that it was dinner time (yes dinner not lunch).

One day while all the people were headed home for dinner, I decided that I did not want to walk home in my wet bathing suit so promptly took it off and headed home naked. I’m not sure but think this happened when I was about three.