Sisters & Brothers

from by Ric Kemper

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In 1533, Henry VIII broke with the Church in Rome, a politico-religious move echoed across much of northern Europe. So began the Reformation and the ‘Dissolution’ of 1539 of many great monastic buildings. The now vanished Horton Priory, local to Knowlton, was presumably a victim of these times along with Sherborne Abbey – now reduced to a parish church - on which it was dependent.

A particular focus of reform was the popular cult of St Mary and Marian iconography which was removed from sight or destroyed. High on the list of church reformers were equally the folk customs which had been tolerated under Roman Catholicism and even absorbed by the Church in some instances. The co-existence of church and henge at Knowlton is perhaps an example. References to folk belief after this time were disparaged as ‘popish superstition’. The puritanical 16th century also saw the rise of the witch hysteria throughout Europe which was probably I think the tragic result of urban ecclesiastics making contact for the first time with rural populations, who were still basically pagan at the dawning of the sixteenth millennium CE.


In the year of the lord
The king got a plan
Men turned out the sisters
And brothers they banned

Confiscated lands
Wherever they rode

Took the roof from our heads
It’s sisters & brothers on the road

The plate & the cloth
The lead & the gold
The silver, the statues
All bundled & sold

The door hangs ajar
The wind it blows cold

With the heavens our rafters
It’s sisters & brothers on the road

Now the king wears a crown
His men stand at arms
In castles & towers
They’re dry & they’re warm

Their coffers are brimming
With our silver & gold

Now the abbey stands ruined
It’s sisters & brothers on the road


from To Speed The Plough, released August 31, 2015
Words & music by Ric Kemper.



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