About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Sunday 16 June 2013

The Sound Track to Chapter 24

This week's backing track is hard core cathedral repertoire, I'm afraid.  The precentor is preparing for the big service to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the queen's coronation.  The old musical warhorses are wheeled out on these occasions.  In fact, I'm convinced that the following scenario plays out every time:
ROYAL VISITOR (thinks): Oh bloody hell.

I'm just teetering on the brink, after some 8 years moving in cathedral circles, of getting fed up with this Parry anthem.  Here's a version of it, with the vivats, (that's real cathedral techie language, that):

The thing you need to understand about Parry is that we are allowed to like him.  This is not true of Handel or Rutter.  Basically, the more you instinctively warm to a piece of choral music, the less likely you are to be allowed to think it's brilliant.  

And then there's the other Herbert Parry warhorse, Jerusalem, lyrics by William Blake.  Now this one I am sick of, so here's a guitar version:

And next up is Handel's 'Zadok the Priest', a coronation anthem for George III.  This is often sung with  more welly (technical musical term for you there) than accuracy, but here's a brilliant and controlled rendition for you from the King's Consort and Choir:

And finally, possibly my least favourite hymn of all, 'I vow to thee my country'.  I've completely given up on singing the first verse, as I cannot find a way of finessing the meaning in my mind into something I feel happy with.  I see no evidence that the scriptures promote a love 'that asks no questions'.  ('How can this be, seeing I know not a man?')  It's a nice enough tune, I grant you.  Did you know there's a middle verse that's been suppressed?  Here it is:
I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.
Here's a version which seems to be sung by Americans, just so that we can appreciate the shining bounds increasing:
And finally, here's a way out of the hideous Slane 3/4 versus 4/4 argument.  But I dare say we aren't allowed to like it:  


  1. No, I think liking Mr Chilcott's music is probably considered EVEN worse than liking Mr Rutter's.... but at least he agrees that Slane is definitely in 3 time. It may take me some time to forgive you for the guitar rendition of Jerusalem ;-)

    1. Ha! You should hear the guitar version I didn't post! This one is at least well-played.

  2. Passing from I vow to thee to the 3/4 vs 4/4 point I wondered if the link would be this http://youtu.be/n3HxdyMxeEA

    1. Chris, if this was Facebook I would 'like' your comment - but it isn't, so I shall just have to tell you that I like it! A good connection, well made!

    2. That bridges the gap all right. 'The new age has begun...'