Friday, 29 April 2011
I was glad
Yes, he does look like many of the old Bufton-Tuftons in today's Westminster Abbey congregation, without Elgar's sensitive eyes to offset the walrus moustache, but Charles Hubert Hastings Parry could do a good bit of pomp and circumstance. My colleague Jessica Duchen violently disagrees about the worth of 'I was glad', to which a far from unattractive Kate Middleclass processed up the Westminster Abbey aisle a couple of hours ago, but it gave me all the usual frissons, especially in the full-orchestral version. Alongside it, the new John Rutter and Paul Mealor pieces seemed respectively cloying and a tad dreary (and 'Blest Pair of Sirens' felt a bit like overkill, but good to hear that too just when the whole thing had got almost too boring to watch, which sadly applies to the Bish's sermon too).
The frissons date back to my chorister days: on every summer cathedral course - and I 'did' Worcester, Hereford, Gloucester, Exeter and Lincoln - the Choir of All Saints Banstead would tearfully serve up 'I was glad' as the anthem of the final evensong*. In 1977, in a service which also included one of the earliest performances of Walton's Silver Jubilee Mag and Nunc, we even got to sing the 'Vivat Reginas'. They're the only thing which gives the edge to this St Paul's Cathedral performance on what I belatedly realise is the Queen's Golden, not Silver Jubilee**. Alas, it comes in half way through the organ prelude, but hold on for the trumpeters and the spine-tingling bursts of acclaim.
So much for a Golden Jubilee which I don't even remember. Can you believe it, back in 1977 - and I am opening myself up to such derision here - I even kept a Silver Jubilee scrapbook. Now I find the royals, whether sweet, Shrekish, grotesque or bland, totally irrelevant. Not that I don't wish this pair their rightful share of happiness. Peter Tatchell is a bit more belligerent, but puts some of his points very well.
*writes choirmaster DAH: 'By the way, we didn't always do I was Glad on the cathedral courses. We used to alternate it with Zadok, another coronation war-horse! My main worry was to stop the choir bursting into tears before the final top B flat!' Fellow former chorene Mary Amorosino and I remember it was Zadok only once, but who can confirm?
**said Mary has also just pointed out that it couldn't possibly be the Silver Jubilee because Wills and Harry are in the front row. Careless of me.