“Those endless Sabbaths”
We sang “O quanta qualia” today, being in the Octave of All Saints. I love this hymn, except for the spine-chilling phrase “Those endless Sabbaths the blessed ones see”.
For any Scot who has endured a Highland or Island Sabbath, that sends chills up the spine. I well remember, as a child, going to the park and finding the swings chained to the posts lest anyone use them on the Sabbath. And this was in the happily named town of Dollar, where my grandparents lived, which is hardly deep in the Highlands. And the further north and west you go, even today, the more you will find a) Sunday wrongly called the Sabbath, and b) every activity that may bring pleasure strictly forbidden.
In my youth, a law was passed in Scotland, which was meant to mitigate the rigours of the Sabbath for travellers. All pubs were closed, of course, and hotels were forbidden to serve drinks to anyone except residents and what were described in the act as “bona fide travellers”. This was interpreted (by thirsty lawyers, I expect) to mean that you had to have travelled more than three miles before you could have a drink – and you had to sign a register to prove it.
Well, of course, “the law of unintended consequences” swung into action, and I remember my father and his pals on a Sunday driving three or four miles from Galashiels to a hotel in Clovenfords, and then having to drive the same distance home, rather the worse for wear. And no doubt they passed guys from Clovenfords driving the three or four miles in the other direction to have a drink in Galashiels.
And all to keep the endless Sabbath less tedious!