“The World Is Full of Smelly Feet”

Veronika sent a photo of hymn number 736 in Anglican Hymns Old and New, Revised and Enlarged (Great Britain: Kevin Mayhew, 2008). The hymn is titled “The Wolrd Is Full of Smelly Feet.” Of course I thought it was a faked photo, but a little bit of Web searching reveals that it is, in fact, a real hymn with text by by Michael Forster, and music by Christopher Tambling.

I suppose if one is in a Christian church with a liturgical heritage, and one is looking for a contemporary praise-song-type hymn to sing during footwashing, one might consider having the congregation sing this; although it’s hard to imagine.

But then my Web searching revealed that this hymn is included in a collection for junior choirs, and that boggled my mind. If the junior choir I was in sang this song — which we wouldn’t have, since it was a Unitarian Universalist church — but if we had been told to sing that song, my buddy Barry and I would have been laughing so hard we probably would have been unable to sing. Maybe some of the serious older girls would have sung it, but I can’t even imagine them getting through the lyrics with a straight face.

I am sometimes annoyed by some of the hymns in the Unitarian Universalist hymnals. It is good to know that we, at least, do no have a hymn to smelly feet.

For educational purposes, and in the spirit of Maundy Thursday, I’ll include the chorus and two of the verses here. I think you’ll especially enjoy the unexpected rhyme between “toes” and “nose.”

Chorus: The world is full of smelly feet,
Weary from the dusty street.
The world is full of smelly feet,
We’ll wash them for each other.

Jesus said to his disciples,
‘Wash those weary toes!
‘Do it in a cheerful fashion,
‘Never hold your nose!

We’re his [Jesus’] friends, we recognise him
In the folk we meet;
Smart or scruffy, we’ll still love him,
Wash his smelly feet!


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