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Victoria Street Gospel Hall

by John Miles

Victoria Street of sad inner city,
Few houses left and they're so old.
Development plan dropped, such a pity,
Baptist Church closed and the building sold.
Sold they say to a wealthy Sikh;
There's just the Chapel now where God can speak.

The Gospel Hall in Victoria Street,
Painted green with bitumen roof.
Thrice weekly here the faithful meet.
Few and older now they're living proof
That here – years ago - in a better time
God once moved in wonder and sign.

Soldiers with the cross we'd go;
We preached the Gospel without fear.
Militant witness to high and low,
Cared not for fools who'd mock and leer.
Fellowship and songs, 'O happy day,'
'What happened to us,' I often say.

No longer do the members live near,
Long gone to their suburbs – not far to go.
There's grills at the windows because of fear
Of vandals whose names we do not know,
There's decay, with its awful accusing finger,
And fond memories that hesitate to linger.

Faded vision and forgotten dream,
Where once the fire burned bright.
Shut out thoughts of what might have been,
When once brightly shone our light.
Too old, too tired, now to move
And stubbornness still has a point to prove.

The tired old organ still plays Sankey
At Miss Gulliver's funeral pace.
Hymnals passed out by old Fred Smithy
Handshake and genuine smile on his face.
And all is the same as it was before,
As its been since just after the war.

Last month some girls and a local lout
Sauntered in and sat at the back.
And for giggling and noise were soon sent out
With tut tuts for the manners they lack.
In Victoria Street Hall I'm afraid you'll find
No Gospel here for them and their kind

Surrounded now by pagan host,
Competing now with temple and mosque.
Behind each door the honestly lost;
O Lord, from their eyes remove the mist.
You love them all, even know their name
To you it matters not from whence they came.

Always faithful, though not triumphant
Yesterday's keen young song,
Looks back in vain to find the point,
When we changed and it all went wrong.
Too deadly and subtle was the decline,
It just crept in without notice or sign.

With interest we hear of the Spirit's move
But somewhere else, this is no surprise.
In each generation God pours His love,
Through those who reject all compromise.
His march goes on from age to age,
But our story is written on yesterday's page.

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