In UK schools during the 1980’s pupils attended Monday morning assemblies. We’d all dutifully file into the main hall and sit cross-legged on dusty floors (instantly dirtying our white pop-socks). Each of us would have a hymn book (likely with the covers chewed, torn, and unrecognisable) from which we’d sing three songs. Most songs, if not all, were overtly religious.
One song, however, I looked forward to singing, not least because it didn’t try and force-feed me religion.
When A Knight Won His Spurs – Jan Struther
When a knight won his spurs, in the stories of old,
He was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand,
For God and for valour he rode through the land.
No charger have I, and no sword by my side,
Yet still to adventure and battle I ride,
Though back into storyland giants have fled,
And the knights are no more and the dragons are dead.
Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
‘Gainst the dragons of anger, the ogres of greed;
And let me set free with the sword of my youth,
From the castle of darkness, the power of the truth.
(View a school choir singing it here) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py3KAhua6yc
At the time, I didn’t look too deeply at the lyrics or care much about the message. I just know it mentioned knights and dragons, so it was cool.
However, looking back on all of this with adult eyes I understand what appealed to my young impressionable mind. This little hymn isn’t about knights and dragons at all. It’s about life. It’s about having the courage to grab opportunity by the balls and face your fears.
We don’t need heroes to save us. We are heroes.
We need not be knights, to battle dragons.
So, I never thought I’d say this, but thank you ‘old skool’ teachers for the weirdness that was School Assembly. Whad’yah know, I did learn something after all.