Friday, July 6, 2012

Good Mrs. Murphy

A mondegreen is a phrase that results from mishearing what is actually said.  The term was coined from the mishearing of Percy's "Reliques" :
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O'Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual last line is : "And laid him on the green". 

Another example is provided by national correspondent Gregory Jaynes who, as a child, was asked by his pastor to sing Hymn No. 508 which he forever since has recalled as "Lead On, O Kinky Turtle".  The hymn is actually "Lead On, O King Eternal". 

The last verse of the 23rd Psalm in the Old Testament Book of Psalms  begins with the comforting line: "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life".  I have known the mondegreen for this line as "Surely Good Mrs. Murphy will follow me all the days of my life", and I have wondered if that would be a good or a bad thing.  Now I know.

Earlier this week my husband and I were out on the waters of Southeast Alaska.  Our engine rpm's dropped dangerously 23 miles from the nearest community.  In the subsequent hours we received a tow from a passing seiner but were still miles from port, and very alone when he turned off to set his nets.  We had seen a visitor to our dock before we left, the Coastal Messenger.  She is a custom steel boat designed for the Coastal Mission Society out of Chemainus, Vancouver Island.  We have known these fine people for twenty five years and seen them often in the anchorages and harbors of Alaska.  Their purpose is to bring the joy and comfort of the gospel to the remote communities of coastal British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.  Visit their website for their remarkable story.  We called them on the marine radio.  They came out to help us.  Our engine could sustain only low rpm's.  We asked them to stay with us back into the harbor.  It would be a long afternoon at our slow pace.  As we made our way, I looked back to be assured that they were there.  Hour after long hour, I looked back.  They were there, off to port, throttled back to our speed.  We returned safely to our stall.  And so I knew that I had met Good Mrs. Murphy.  And it was a good thing.

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