Though religion has inspired many songs, by no means all of them are hymns, and this one certainly isn't! In the August 18, 1979 issue of the British music paper Sounds
, a Phil Sutcliffe interview with lead vocalist Biff Byford
revealed that this particular non-hymn had a rather unusual inspiration.
Jehovah's Witnesses have the annoying habit of going from door to door at unearthly hours (well, 9 a.m. is unearthly for a budding rock star!) spreading the Gospel. But when they called on Biff. "The bairn was barking and the dog was crying. I had a row with these blokes, slammed the door on them and later on they threw bricks through my window wrapped in copies of The Watchtower
Hmm, the first part of that claim sounds credible, but the second...
The song probably has a more prosaic origin. Members of the American-based cult which was founded in 1884 believed the world would end in 1914. It didn't, although the outbreak of World War One was not a bad dress rehearsal. Subsequent predictions have been even less successful, fortunately for Mankind, although as of April 2011, the Church claimed the circulation of The Watchtower
"the primary Bible study aid for members of the faith, ha[d] an average printing of 39 million, giving it the largest circulation of any religious magazine in the world. It is published in 180 languages".