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Sunday, 3 June 2012

By The Grace of God

The phrase Dei Gratia,  is part of the title of the monarch of Great Britain. By the grace of God, she reigns. Now, Americans have a hard time with this overlap of religion and politics. And, this weekend's amazing celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth I, brings out all the pomp and circumstance, religion and nationalism.

The existence of a monarch, who does not represent a political party, is a great symbol of unity for the people of Great Britain.

I find it interesting that the nation is responding so wonderfully to this celebration. For some, it is just a long, four day weekend. For others, it is a real day of celebration.

The countryside lies under miles of bunting. There are parties everywhere, and I hope, on Monday, to witness live the lighting of at least one of the beacons. If any of you saw The Lord of the Rings and the lighting of the beacons, that originated here in England as a warning for invasions. Thousands of beacons will be lit on Monday night as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Here is a link for that. There is an interactive beacon map, which is really cool.

I attended the Jubilee Celebration concert at Sherborne Abbey on Saturday. I lived in Sherborne for three years and love this area so much. I know the Abbey well, as we lived in the precinct area, and I felt quite at home. The Sherborne Chamber Choir, Sherborne Abbey Choir and orchestra, with Conductor Paul Ellis, gave us a superb evening of music. The program included what one might expect at such a  concert:  Parry's "I was Glad" and "Blest Pair of Sirens", Vaughan William's "The Old Hundreth", Walton's "Coronation Te Deum" and "Crown Imperial", Handel's "Zadok the Priest", Orlando Gibbons "O Clap Your Hands", Rutter's "This Is the Day". Mealor's "Ubi Caritas" (this was the first time I have heard this in concert), Elgar's "Coronation Ode", and Britten's arrangment of the "National Anthem".

My house was right behind the Almshouse, which one can see in this picture. Trendle Street is a very, very short street. As to the above music, I am familiar with all of these, except for the Mealor, which was a great introduction to his work, as I did not watch the royal wedding last year, where this piece was introduced. I was glad to hear it for the first time in my old hunting grounds....

Only Anglophiles could handle such an evening of pure monarchism. But, we were all reminded by one of the readings, that it is only by the Grace of God that this present, and all monarchs reign. How appropriate this reading was in this ancient home of the Benedictines, Sherborne Abbey. By the way, some of you may not know that St. Stephen Harding, one of the founders of the Cistercian Order, came from Sherborne.

By the way,the other day I wrote about the engraved windows at Moreton. Laurence Whistler has one at Sherborne Abbey as well. I had forgotten this until I was in the Abbey Saturday night. More connections. I had seen it years ago and knew about both sites, but this window was forgotten by me. Life is full of small threads....