Okay, so I’m still recounting our time in London of last summer.
Here’s to the memories part 2:
Composed upon Westminster Bridge, 3 September 1802
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
We went to the morning service at Westminster Abbey. It was a special civic service today. The Lord Mayor of Westminster read the scripture. We entered the abbey flanked by service men and women from the various armed forces. The choir sang and the bells rang. It was wonderful! We had seats by the great north door so we could hardly see anything but the pulpit and a bit of the lectern where the scriptures are read. It was even hard to see the choir on the large screen telly they have mounted up on one of the massive pillars. But you didn’t need to see things this Sunday, you needed to have ears to hear.
To hear the organ and feel the organ being played.
Prelude and Fugue in G BWV541 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Cantabile from Symphonie VI by Charles-Marie Widor
from Variations Op 36 ‘Enigma’ vii W.N. ix Nimrod by Edward Elgar
(I can’t vouch for the quality of the performers in these except for the BBC orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein)
Follow the opening organ with the introit sung by the adult and boys choirs, followed by the hymn “Guide me, Of thou great Redeemer” and you already feel small in such a place as the Abbey, but there’s also something about the place that makes you feel part of something big and wonderful.
The Anthem was George Frideric Handel’s, what’s now known as the “Hallelujah” Chorus. Sung by the choir, accompanied by organ and trumpet. At best this piece of music brings goose flesh to my skin, add the Westminster choir, being in the Abbey and you’ve got tears welling up as well. It was something I shall not soon forget! Wow!
The final hymn was “Battle-Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.
The Blessing was as follows:
Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no-one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always. Amen.
It was odd to sing the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen” at the end of the service, but then we are used to a separation of church and state in the US that does not exist in the UK where the Queen IS the head of the church and the head of the state.
The after service music was another of my favourite organ pieces.
Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach
It was a service worth being there just for the music if for no other reason! But the whole experience was rather awe inspiring and uplifting. Which made the rain worth getting out into.