or A Song Only Its Composer Could Love
Right, well, let’s begin at the beginning. In the early months of this year, I slogged through an exhaustive and exhausting book titled The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and the Discovery of India. In it, I learned about a peculiar chap from the early 19th century, a preacher named William Cowherd (not making that up) who created a vegetarian sect called the Bible Christian Church.
The Rev. Cowherd was also a writer of hymns, and with a little googling, I found his major contribution to the genre, Select Hymns for the Use of Bible-Christians. The last three hymns in the book are on the theme of “Humanity and Religion Pleading Against Flesh-Eating.” I decided to set them to music (which, you can download for free!)
One of those hymns, the strikingly-titled “Eaters of Flesh!” caught my particular fancy, and I wrote the above song, a sort of emo ballad with an extended Sibelius-inspired breakout and a faux-Renaissance coda. As you do.
You might think this piece was purpose-built to alienate everyone but its author: too churchy for the secular crowd, too weird for the church music crowd. The text features many 19th century contortions of grammar and syntax (“Had God for man its flesh designed … lifeless, to us, had been consigned”) and on top of it all, it’s straightforwardly accusatory in its vegan pleading, which will probably turn off everyone who wasn’t turned off already.
But you know what? I wrote it for me, and I like it just fine. Quite a lot, as a matter of fact!