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Songs of Sacrilege: The Vatican Rag by Tom Lehrer

This is the seventh installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please leave the name the song in the comment section or send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is The Vatican Rag by Tom Lehrer.

Video Link


First you get down on your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

Do whatever steps you want, if
You have cleared them with the pontiff.
Everybody say his own
Kyrie eleison,
Doin’ the vatican rag.

Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional,
There, the guy who’s got religion’ll
Tell you if your sin’s original.
If it is, try playin’ it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer,
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!

So get down upon your knees,
Fiddle with your rosaries,
Bow your head with great respect,
And genuflect, genuflect, genuflect!

Make a cross on your abdomen,
When in rome do like a roman,
Ave maria,
Gee it’s good to see ya,
Gettin’ ecstatic an’
Sorta dramatic an’
Doin’ the vatican rag!

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Series Navigation<< Songs of Sacrilege: Dear God by CTCSongs of Sacrilege: Merry Go ‘Round by Kacey Musgraves >>


  1. Avatar

    Love Tom Lehrer’s songs! I first heard of him in history class where the teacher let us listen to ‘who’s next,’ and ‘Wherner von Braun.’ Incidentally there’s a bit of sacrilige in who’s next as well:

    Egypt’s gonna get one too,
    Just to use on you know who.
    So Israel’s getting tense.
    Wants one in self defense.
    “The Lord’s our shepherd,” says the psalm,
    But just in case, we better get a bomb.
    Who’s next?

    Anyway, so I started to check him out after that class and discovered many more of them. National Brotherhood Week is another nice one, however, the Irish ballad may be my favorite, especially the ending and clue of the song. Also about religious hypocrisy 🙂 It made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it!

    I do have a suggestion for another song: a spaceman came travelling by Chris de Burgh. It’s not necessarily sacriligious in that it attacks Christianity but it does suggest aliens playing a part in Jesus being/becoming Godly, so hardly a literal reading of the christmas story either 😉

  2. Avatar

    tom lehrer has been one of my favourites since i first heard him, back when “THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS” was being broadcast for the first time… i didn’t understand, and couldn’t care less what they were talking about, i just loved the theme songs… 8)

    among my current songs of sacrilege favourites is “Jesus Thinks You’re A Jerk” by Frank Zappa –

  3. Avatar

    I recall being so proud of myself when I got my 1st computer some years ago and taught myself to make a Youtube playlist and rediscovered the fabulous Tom Lehrer. I still listen to his songs most weeks – this, Pollution, The Hunting Song and Poisoning Pigeons in the Park never tire – and are great earworms if I’m feeling low!
    (I’m more computer literate now…..but thought I’d done something really clever at the time!!)

  4. Avatar
    Gavin Doyle

    Hoizers ‘Take Me To Church’ is considered sacrilege by some fundamentals; although to my ears it sounds deeply religious (it was written by a U2 band member and so influenced by gospel music.) Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ caused outraged when it was released, but mostly due to the video. For pure blunt vulgarity it’s hard to beat Tim Mittens ‘Pope Song’

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Bruce Gerencser