TACOMA, Wash. – In a move that has sent shock waves through spleens north and south of the Mason-Dixon line, tenor Bob “Reader Alexiy (Alexiy the Tsarevich and Passion-Bearer (or Martyr, Depending Upon Whom You Ask))” Bridges of Holy Redirection Orthodox Church’s choir complained that he didn’t like the traditional Orthodox Christmas hymn, “When Augustus Ruled.”
“It’s wrong,” explained Reader Alexiy, a former American Baptist, Evangelical Covenanter, and Episcopalian. “Augustus didn’t rule alone. The kingdoms of Earth did not pass under one single rule. What about China? What about India? What about the Aztecs?”
“It’s hyperbole,” said Holy Redirection’s choir director, Matushka Elizabeth (“Elizabeth the New Martyr, Grand Duchess and Tsarevich Alexiy’s Aunt”) Post, also a former Episcopalian. “Now kindly shut up and sing.”
“I joined the Orthodox Church because it teaches the truth about God and Jesus and everything,” whined Reader Alexiy. “This hymn isn’t the truth.”
“You’re getting on my nerves,” suggested Matushka Elizabeth.
“Us too,” chorused the chorus.
“Can’t we sing ‘Silent Night’ or ‘Joy to the World’ or something?” asked Reader Alexiy.
“Converts!” exclaimed Matushka Elizabeth.
“Is, of course, outrage,” said COROC priest Father Vasiliy Vasileivich, calmly. “If hymn is good enough for 19th Century Russia, is good enough for 21st Century America. But you were to knowing that. Sigh. Am getting old.”
“Maybe if the tune wasn’t so bleh,” pondered Reader Alexiy.
“Maybe if you would just stuff your objections under your cassock and sing?” inquired Matushka Elizabeth.
“I’ve got things to do at home,” observed soprano Susan Susanovich. “Can we get on with this?”
“Hear, hear,” agreed bass David Sparks.
“‘The Huron Carol?’ ‘In Dulci Jubilo?'” asked Reader Alexiy, hopefully.
“‘When Augustus Ruled,'” said Matushka Elizabeth, flatly.
“‘Angels We Have Heard on High?'” offered the Reader.
“‘When Augustus Ruled,'” countered the Matushka.
“‘O Holy Night?'”
“‘WHEN AUGUSTUS RULED.’ From the top. One, two, three….”
“When Augustus ruled alone upon the earth,” sang the choir, including Bob “Reader Alexiy” Bridges.
“Well, I tried,” explained the good Reader to our intrepid Onion Dome reporter some time later, after choir practice was over. “Maybe next year.”
Copyright © 2002-2014 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.
First published in December, 2002