Saturday, July 12, 2008

A high old time

The group photo
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
One of the joys of being a musician is that in the middle of ordinary life you can take off and spend a day working your socks off and having the greatest fun - and then being thanked for it at the end of the day. Yesterday was such an occasion. As the bishops of the Anglican Communion - or at least, such parts of it as don't think the rest of us are all bound for Hell in a handcart - began to arrive in the UK for the Lambeth Conference, they were whisked off to the various dioceses for the weekend, and three of them, with their wives, fetched up on the Isle of Cumbrae at the Cathedral of The Isles. Doubtless they were allowed to go to bed early after the rigours of their journeys, but first they had to attend a Festal Choral Evensong - and this, dear reader, is where yours truly came in.

This, it has to be said, was one of the best incarnations of Cumbrae Cathedral Choir that I've experienced. Eight voices, nae passengers, old friends from University Chapel Choir and early days in teaching, sopranos without a wobble, either mental or vocal. We were able to sing through everything and concentrate on unanimity, and no-one lost their cool for so much as a flicker. And in between we giggled like school kids - remember, only two of us were under 60 - and the years vanished.

The service was joyous - clouds of incense, some great music (from Boyce's All the Ends of the Earth through to Britten's wonderful Festival Te Deum), +Martin's address of welcome. At the end, we watched with interest as a small pipe band appeared over the lawn: would they strike up before Jonathan Cohen had finished his Vidor? But no; they were well-briefed and there were no hiccups other than a degree of mild hysteria.

Afterwards, of course, there was the photo-op (I handed my Leica to Frank, fresh from Texas via Aberdeen). This was another flash-back moment, as it was this kind of event which propelled me into the arms of the Piskie Church in the first place, and when I have more time I shall scan a similar but ancient photo for comparison. (If you click the pic, you can see who was who). And people thanked us, over and over again. What do you say? It seemed wrong, somehow, to be thanked for having such a good time.

But the last word belongs to Martin, Bishop of Argyll. Emerging from the cathedral to the choir waiting in the porch at the end of the service, he punched the air: "Yes!" he said. "Amen!". Amen indeed.


  1. You all look like mature refugees from a school that's been playing Hogwarts @ Quidditch!

  2. Ah, God inhabits the praises of His people. And it truly sounds as though these praises were offered up with joyful hearts...

    A very lovely photo of a very lovely group!