Miscellaneous

‘God’s time’

Time is cyclical. The Earth spins on its axis and orbits the Sun, while it is in turn orbited by the Moon, so that the rhythms of Nature shape our lives. Onto this pattern, we add our own markers, the fixed points in our existence about which all else rotates. It is around this time of year, for example, that we mark All Hallows’ Eve and the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot.
Perhaps greatest of all, it’s this time of year, as the clocks are changed, that tends to see Peter Hitchens mount one of his favourite hobby-horses, defending Greenwich Mean Time – ‘real, organic, British time’ – from the departing enemy of British Summer Time, imposed during World War I and still oppressing us.

It’s a long-running argument. Here, by way of context, is an extract from E.F. Benson’s novel
Miss Mapp (1922).


The sermon was quite uncompromising. There was summer and winter, by Divine ordinance, but there was nothing said about summer-time and winter-time. There was but one Time, and even as Life only stained the white radiance of eternity, as the gifted but, alas! infidel poet remarked, so, too, did Time. But ephemeral as Time was, noon in the Bible clearly meant twelve o’clock, and not one o’clock: towards even, meant towards even, and not the middle of a broiling afternoon. The sixth hour similarly was the Roman way of saying twelve. Winter-time, in fact, was God’s time, and though there was nothing wicked (far from it) in adopting strange measures, yet the simple, the childlike, clung to the sacred tradition, which they had received from their fathers and forefathers at their mother’s knee.

Then followed a long and eloquent passage, which recapitulated the opening about unhappy divisions, and contained several phrases, regarding the lengths to which such divisions might go, which were strikingly applicable to duelling. The peroration recapitulated the recapitulation, in case anyone had missed it, and the coda, the close itself, in the full noon of the winter sun, was full of joy at the healing of all such unhappy divisions. And now… The rain rattling against the windows drowned the Doxology.

The doctrine was so much to her mind that Miss Mapp gave a shilling to the offertory instead of her usual sixpence, to be devoted to the organist and choir fund. The Padre, it is true, had changed the hour of services to suit the heresy of the majority, and this for a moment made her hand falter. But the hope, after this convincing sermon, that next year morning service would be at the hour falsely called twelve decided her not to withdraw this handsome contribution.


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