The Religious Turncoat

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The Religious Turncoat is a satirical song on the religious turmoil of the sevcenteenth century. It is a precursor of the better known Vicar of Bray.


The text of the song itself is

! Explanatory Notes
I lov'd no king in forty-one 1641 - when Charles I was in conflict with Parliament
A cloak and band I then put on, the approved dress of a C of E clergyman on the Protestant wing
And preached against the Crown.
Chorus:
 :A turncoat is a cunning man,
 : That cants to admiration, ' to cant' ~ 'to talk hypocritically' "especially with a false display of moral or religious principles" (Chambers (1996))
 : And prays for any side to gain
 : The people's approbation.
When brewer Noll with copper nose Oliver Cromwell
The stinking Rump dismounted, the Dissolution of the Rump Parliament, by Cromwell, in 1653
I wisely still adher'd to those
Who strongest were accounted.
I preached and prayed for Oliver, sc. Cromwell
And all his vile abettors,
But curs'd the King and Cavalier, Charles II and the Royalists
And cried 'em down for traitors.
When Charles returned unto the land, Charles II
The English Crown's supporter,
I shifted off my cloak and band
And then became a Courtier i.e. attended court; followed the King's beliefs, so becoming more catholic in religion
The King's religion I profest, catholicism
And found there was no harm in't ;
I coged and nattered like the rest, 'to cog' ~ 'to cheat, deceive; to fawn or wheedle'
Till I had got preferment. i.e. promotion, or appointment to a Church position
When Royal James began his reign, James II
And Mass was used in common, mass - the central Roman Catholic church service; used in common ~ generally practised
I shifted off my Faith again,
And so became a Roman. sc. catholic
When William had possess'd the throne, William III; came to throne in 1689
And cur'd our country's grievance,
New principles I then put on,
And swore to him allegiance.
I then preached up King William's right
Pray'd for his foes' confusion,
And so remained a Williamite,
Till another Revolution.
But when Queen Anne the throne posses't, in 1702
I then, to save my bacon,
Turn'd High Church, thinking that was best,
But found myself mistaken
For soon discerning very plain,
The Whigs had got the better,
I turn'd Low Churchman, so remain
A Trimming Moderator.
Therefore all you, both high and low,
Let me for once direct you,
Serve no cause longer than you know
The party can protect you.