Archive for June, 2013

Dear everyone, forgive this month’s letter taking the form of a personal reminiscence.
A favourite question on many local radio stations at the moment is this. ‘If you were around, what were you doing at the time of the Queen’s Coronation 60 years ago?’
My experience was memorable in an unexpected way!
I was doing my National service, at HQ.Southern Command, Wilton near Salisbury. I used to play a small Church organ mid-week at the small parish church of St. Peters in Fugglestone near Wilton. After we had finished our work for the day- a small intimate group of four or five of us used to meet there during the week and share in the evening service of Compline together. To me it was a very moving place to worship in, because it had been the church where George Herbert, poet and priest, had ministered centuries before.
Prior to National Service, all through my teens, I had regularly played a harmonium at two of the small mid week meetings of the Young Men’s Bible class at Vicar Street Methodist Church, in Dudley. Quite a large number of us, incidentally, who belonged to this Class became Ministers, and Local Preachers in the Methodist Church. The Queen’s Coronation however presented me with a sudden unexpected musical challenge to which I had to make a response.
The parish church to which St. Peters was attached, were holding a special thanksgiving service to celebrate the Queen’s Coronation. The organist due to play was taken ill. I was asked at very short notice, if I would play.
It was a big and important event for the church. I think there were about 250 people there, although I didn’t count them. There was a large pipe organ with a tremendous number of stops and several manuals to cope with- a daunting, rather petrifying task, especially as I had never been trained as an organist!
Some of the simpler hymns went fine. With others I struggled, and made quite a few mistakes. I still squirm when I think of my efforts at that service. But there were two redeeming features. The choir and the congregation sang really heartily, and drowned many of my faults, and many of course realised that I had only stepped in because of an emergency!
It was rather an unusual way of serving ‘Queen and country’ at that very special and significant time!
All good wishes, David.

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