Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Hello again!

Slightly sooner than anticipated, I know, due to the urgency of curtailing my sojourn by the sea. Frinton in the rain was only slightly less attractive than Frinton in the sun, and being allergic to my sister's cushions I decamped to a pal’s in Gloucester. And how glad I am that I did. For a start, Derek knows his music; he sings in the cathedral choir and lives in a rather spacious grace-and-favour apartment in the abbey precincts. So when he suggested that we attend Sunday morning Eucharist to sample the visiting choir’s offering, I was happy to concur. Widor's mass for double choir was very ably performed by the ***** Singers, and their afternoon rendition of Stanford in C was equally splendid. One so wants to applaud! But, of course, one doesn't (unlike those blasted prommers who seemed to need to exercise their arms at the end of each movement of the Elgar violin concerto the other week. And if not their arms, their bloody throats. Dear Lord above, if I were director of the Henry Wood Promenade Concerts I would insist that every member of the congregation had a thorough medical examination before admission to the auditorium. And if there was even the merest tickle of a cough, I'd have them shot!) Where was I? Ah yes, Gloucester Cathedral. Gloucester Cathedral! What majesty of Early English architecture. What beauty of medieval craftsmanship! And what, pray, of the splendour of the great East Window? Indulge me for a moment, gentle reader:

What about that, then? An entire wall of glass! How wonderful! (Makes our own rather poky east window look a bit sick by comparison, I can tell you.) And that's not all. Oh no. For beyond the aforementioned window, in a tiny chapel-off-a-chapel in the southern-most corner of the eastern protrusion lies this little gem -

Yes, dear reader, yes - a chapel devoted entirely to the great musicians who have at one time graced the organ loft at Gloucester. No matter that the music in the window on the right is by that stinker, Herbert Howells. (Incidentally, it is a little-known fact that all candidates for the post of organist at Gloucester during the twentieth century had to be called Herbert.) No. The biggest window of them all, the most resplendent in Victorian artistry, the most glorious in its panoply of light and colour, is a memorial to the late, great...

God, in the form of a church musician (should He have required another incarnation)!

On my return home I immediately appraised the so-called Director of Music here of my proposal for a similar memorial window to be erected in our own cathedral. I could tell he was rather taken with the idea, at least until I reminded him that he would have to die in order to be similarly recognised. No matter. Only one thing about my trip to Gloucester left me slightly ill at ease. It was this:

Yes - a homosexual. And a king! And if Gloucester Cathedral could be so magnanimous towards Edmund II, why on earth couldn't the wallah's at Lambeth do the same for Bishop Gene Pitney?


Gill - That British Woman said...

Hi, I just wanted to say thank you for popping by and for your comments. YOu have to remember Canada is a relatively new country, and to see an "old" church in the middle of all those new buildings is actually a good thing, as someone actually had to common sense to preserve it rather than knock it down to put another high rise building there, so for that we should be grateful.

I did a post a while back about where we were married, again not quite as old as your "place" but pretty close!! Here is the link to that post: http://thatbritishwoman.blogspot.com/2008/07/church-where-we-we-married.html It is of course in Britain.

Again thanks for popping by, I enjoy the way you write,


JP said...

Howells? Stinker?


Joanna Cake said...

What beautiful windows! Sadly, I cannot enlarge the statue of Edward II, one of our more colourful yet lesser known sovereigns.

Having only recently started to attend musical evenings due to my son being a member of a local orchestra, I would ask that you forgive us musical novices our inappropriate applause if it is our first experience. However, I do agree that those who appear not to notice that none of the obvious regulars are clapping and yet persist in interrupting the pause between each movement are very irritating.

Welcome back!

ab said...

Hi CB, good to see you writing again.
I've been visiting your blog ever since you left your comment on mine (ofzomaar.blogspot.com). Thanks for that.
Also good to see that you like Gloucester Cathedral so much. It's one of my favorites. And also the first cathedral in which I sung (as part of a visiting choir from Holland )

ChickPea said...

Welcome back Sir - we missed you.

Doshea3 said...

O, good to see you back.

Your plan for the Proms reminds me of a particularly elitist friend's idea to hand out questionnaires at the door of the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Anybody who couldn't tell you that Beethoven was deaf and that he wrote the Eroica symphony was to be killed. Or at least refused admission.

Can Bass 1 said...

Yes, I think I may have been a trifle hasty, Doshea. Perhaps merely refusing them admission would be more to your taste too, Miss Cake. Or perhaps they should be soundly spanked? It is indeed very nice to be back, Chickpea. And thank you. Howells is a stinker to sing, Mr JP. My reaudition last year consisted of sight-singing the little-known Worcester service, and it's a wonder that I'm still here singing. Many thanks for the explanation, Gill, and for the link - I was aware of the organ, but had no idea the church was so charming. I must visit it one day.

Kevin Musgrove said...

Gloucester Cathedral or Frinton is one of those damned difficult lifetime choices, isn't it?

Do you have to be dead to have a stained glass window in your honour? That would be an excellent principle for Big Brother.

Doshea3 said...

O, Howells. One of the hymns we're singing in Warwick (that I'm playing, rather) this weekend is "All my hope on God is founded" to his tune "Michael". It's not the tune I'd usually use. Those Warwickians have odd taste in hymn tunes.

Can Bass 1 said...

Yes, Mr Musgrove. If you're organist at this cathedral, you most certainly do. And the sooner the better. You have me now, Mr Doshea, because I'm actually rather partial to 'Michael' (but not the dreaful discount!). It's one bit of Howells I can reliably sing.

Doshea3 said...

Actually, I find Michael a perfectly lovely hymn tune, just not what I'm used to. My Sunday morning Calvinists aren't fond of their Howells much.

We sing Brewer's evening service in A in Warwick on Sunday. Lavely, as they say!

susan s. said...

Glad to see you back! I thought you'd be gone for the month and had not checked in till today. I spy the lovely St. Cecilia on the right hand side of the first picture, I think.
Our choir sang Evensong in Gloucester earlier in this century. 2003 I think it was. We probably sang Howells. "Like as an hart," and all.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I love stained glass - how wonderful too to find some of it devoted to great musicians as well as religious figures. We have some nice examples in Oxford as you may know - let me know next time you are passing through CB.

Re homosexuals, double standards abound it's true. But if an ambassador for Christianity behaves with sincerity, compassion & professionalism with a dash of spirituality thrown in, personally I don't see how they can be faulted for their sexual orientation as that is a matter between themselves and the big G, rather than for their peers or parishioners to sit in judgement of.

Rob Clack said...

Ah, Gloucester. A fine edifice, with a super madonna in polished stainless steel sheet, as I recall. We're singing there the last week in August next year, and I'm looking forward to it already!

I agree with jp - I rather like Howells. I sang the tenor solo (only slightly flat!) when we did his Coll. Reg. in Ripon in the late 1990s. And his Pray for the Peas of Jerusalem is pretty good too, we think. So there!

And as for that king... It's odd, isn't it, that the closer some folks stick to their literal interpretation of their religious texts, the less forgiving they are of those of a different persuasion.

And yet, the two great religions I'm thinking of claim to be the most forgiving.

Just the weansiest inconsistency there, it seems to me.

But of course, you can't talk to them, because they've already made up their minds.