On The Saints

Glory glory hallelujah! Glory glory hallelujah!

This is the appropriate verbal response when you see saints go marching in. It is not, admittedly, something you see very often, but it is best to be prepared, just in case, and to have the double “glory” and the “hallelujah” ready on your lips. You can even practise, in the absence of marching saints, to be on the safe side.

“Does it matter,” I have been asked, “into what the saints are marching?” Actually it is surprising how often I am asked this question. Only the other day I was buttonholed in the boulevard by not one, not two, but by three separate persons – a boy scout, a widow-woman, and an art wanker – each asking me, in varying tones of urgency and desperation, if they ought to concern themselves with the eventual destination of marching saints. In each case my answer was the same. “No,” I said, plainly and simply, hoping that would put an end to the matter and I could continue on my way, sashaying along towards the pie shop, or the pastry kiosk, or wherever it was I was going.

But neither the boy scout, the widow-woman, nor the art wanker was satisfied by my reply and they each had a supplementary question. These I felt duty bound to deal with. When one is the sort of person whose advice is sought in the matter of marching saints, one cannot merely shrug and dismiss those by whom one is importuned. To do so would be snippy, and I am not a snippy man.

Now, I am not going to relate to you precisely what those three supplementary questions were. We haven’t got time to get bogged down in minutiae, have we? What I will do is try to make some general points about marching saints, or more precisely the destinations into which we might find them marching. You will then be able to judge if your own questions on the matter have been answered. If not, you can either put your question in writing and send it to me c/o the Marching Saints Investigation Bureau, or you can smack yourself hard in the centre of your forehead and go about some other business, such as garden maintenance or changing the fuse in one of your electrical plugs.

There are innumerable situations into which saints might march. For instance, I have seen saints go marching in to mysterious remote storage facilities out in arid wastelands. I have seen them go marching in to certain death in the face of enemy machine gun fire. And I have seen them go marching in to the pie shop. In the latter case, I think they were intent not on buying pies but on making a complaint about pies bought the previous day, which turned out to be contaminated pies and gave them all a proper bellyache.

The thing is that saints tend to go marching about, in groups, rather than keeping themselves to themselves in isolated hermitages, convents, monasteries, and the like. Nobody is quite sure why that is. Obviously there is the issue of strength in numbers, but any saint worth their salt is brimful of inner strength. It is one of their saintly features. No matter what brickbats are thrown, nor perils confronted, a saint will cope with them due to their strength and sanctity. This much is true even of weedy or puny saints, of whom there are more than you might expect.

Still, for whatever reason, they like to gather together into a pack, like wolves, and go marching, usually with banners and drums and pipes to toot. I suppose it beats sitting around in a hermitage gazing at the bracken and gorse growing in the doorway. Once they are marching, they like to have somewhere to march to, something to march into. Otherwise they would just march and march and march, until they dropped from exhaustion or until they reached the limit of the land, and arrived at cliffs or a beach, and saw the sea. In a sense, then, it doesn’t matter into what they march. What is important is that, as they pass, those who see them doff their hats and lift their voices to heaven and cry “Glory glory hallelujah!”

The double “glory” is significant. Where only a single “glory” is cried, I have seen marching saints totter and stagger and in some cases fall flat on their faces. If the fallen saint is near the front of the pack, those behind can trip over them, and come clattering down themselves, dropping their drum or tooting pipe, causing a bigger obstacle to those further behind, and resulting in a chaotic heap of limb-flailing saints. Though this can be amusing to watch, it would be sinful to laugh, as I am sure you know. I once chuckled when I saw a collapsed pack of marching saints, and not long afterwards I was visited in the night by a horrible black swooping bat of penitence. I did not forget that in a hurry.

As with the double “glory” so with the “hallelujah”. You might want to practise your pronunciation of this cry. That ‘j’ can be treacherous. Remember that it is only Rastafarians who give it the common ‘j’ sound, as when they are babbling on about Jah and the sufferation in Babylon. As a consequence, “hallelujah” is sometimes spelled “halleluiah”, for the benefit of dimwits. As you can imagine, missing out “hallelujah” after “glory glory” can be even more calamitous than a single “glory”. As I explained, with inhuman patience, to the boy scout and the widow-woman and the art wanker, a night-time visit from a horrible black swooping bat of penitence would be the very least of your worries if you omitted the “hallelujah”. Take my word for it, you don’t want to know the awful details.

In our next article on marching saints, we will look in some detail at chronology. When exactly is the “when” when the saints go marching in? Before then, your homework is to list three such occasions, backed up by documentary evidence. To avoid confusion, give your times using the twenty-four hour clock.

1 Responses to “On The Saints”


  • You, sir, are an inspiration! I myself am surrounded by saints, and every moment they seem to be marching off to some place or other. You can imagine my state of mind, having the requisite glories and hallelujahs always on my lips. Did you know that hallelujah apparently means “give a thrill to him who must not be named”?

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