YOU all remember the Ten Commandments, of course. It was a Cecil B Demille production from 1956, featuring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Vincent Price, Edward G Robinson and a cast of, well, Demillions.

The reviews may most kindly be described as mixed - "the script is a sort of prose doggerel Biblespeak of unerring shallowness," says the Time Out Film Guide, though no one could accuse poor old Cecil of not trying.

The orgy scene alone took three weeks to shoot, though memory declines to nominate which of the torrid ten it was intended to illustrate. The bit, perhaps, about not coveting thy neighbour's maid.

The commandments, the shalt-nots, also have a starring role in the book of Exodus - cast in stone on Mount Sinai, handed down to Moses and Aaron and harbinger of 3,000 years of jokes about why Israel should keep on taking the tablets.

These days, alas, the commandments are taken with rather a lot of water, and not even on prescription. The Commanding Officer appears widely to have been demoted, too.

Liberals will argue, for example, that it's all right to bear false witness so long as it's with crossed fingers; scholars will claim (honest) that the original Hebrew meant "steal" only in the sense of kidnap for slavery, and that since there's no longer much slavery about - not since the minimum wage decreed that servitude was £3.60 an hour - that's another which no longer counts.

In 1997 a Sunday Times survey revealed that only 17 per cent of Church of England clergy could remember what all ten were, never mind what on earth they were going to do about them.

It was therefore with particular pleasure that last Sunday morning we attended a service in Wensleydale at which the commandments were again honoured - and with nowt, as a Yorkshireman might say, tekken out.

Queen Elizabeth I, apparently, decreed that all churches should have commandment boards. Word travels slowly in rural North Yorkshire and it was 1783 before they appeared in St Andrew's, Finghall, signed by Luke Yarker, Rector, and by Geo Theakstone and Christopher Darnborough, churchwardens.

Finghall is a tranquil village about a mile off the Bedale to Leyburn road, where just about all that's changed is its spelling. "Not so long ago the sign at one end of the village said 'Finghall' and at the other end 'Fingall'," recalls long time resident Ernie Williamson.

Now they've settled for Finghall, but pronounce it Fing-all, anyway.

The 12th Century church stands alone, much nearer the road, alongside the nonchalant River Ure, shorn in 1963 of its balcony but of none of its great charm.

Until the Great Plague, church and village co-existed, Finghall a place of sufficient importance for church synods to meet. The plague forced a move to higher ground, villagers convinced that the water - not the rats - was the carrier.

Now it's what historians call a plague church. "The church would have cost a lot more to rebuild, of course, and in a way they probably felt safer there," says Don Tordoff, the present Rector.

It's a glorious old building, thoroughly top and bottomed for the special occasion, bell rope by the chancel steps cheerfully monotolled by a chap in shirt sleeves and a sweat on.

The commandment boards had been half-hidden behind the organ and seen very much better days. "They were dirty, discoloured, worn in places and the worm was starting to get at them," says Church Council member man Tom King.

"I think they'd been rather forgotten, to be honest."

The church council made it their millennium project; restoration cost over £1,000. On Sunday they had re-appeared on the chancel wall, slightly leaning forward, big enough to stop a raging bull if not to put the fear of God into it.

The welcome was as sunny as the morning, the order of communion from the still unequalled Book of Common Prayer, the music owing rather more to the latter day wonders of technology.

Without an organist, Mr Tordoff records the piece of music onto a computer at his rectory in nearby Spennithorne, transfers it all onto a floppy disk, inserts the disk into some new new-fangled gadgetry in St Andrew's and out, resonantly, comes J S Bach.

The stage has not yet been reached, however, when the Rector stands in the pulpit with a remote control, seeking whomsoever the zapper might devour. A churchwarden sits by the on/off button, instead.

(An assiduous and thoroughly amiable chap, Don Tordoff is also Rector of both Spennithorne and Hauxwell. Earlier incumbents had life rather easier, the Rev Walter Hawkesworth Fawkes (1920-44) said to wear hunting pink beneath clerical vestment and - lest his message not entirely be clear - to tether his horse outside.)

The re-dedication prayer - "Write the new law of Christ in our hearts" - set the tone for a lustrous and lucid sermon in which Mr Tordoff professed to be a fan of The Simpsons.

The Simpsons are always having to write out lines. One imposition was "I must not hide the teacher's Prozac", another said "This punishment is neither boring nor pointless."

The commandments, said Mr Tordoff, were 100-line statements. "There is no doubt that if someone takes them seriously, and keeps them, they will be leading a highly moral life.

"Of course we must respect the old laws, the old testament, but we must live the new laws, the new testament. We are expected to live by love, not rules."

Maybe 40 were present, a decent congregation from a small village, happy to remain for coffee and biscuits served in the pews.

It is impossible to suppose, of course, how many of us left inspired by thoughts of wish and command - but as a timeless Church of England tableau, a happy interlude on a summer's morning, most definitely ten out of ten.