Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I will apply myself diligently

I'm really looking forward to Choral Evensong next Sunday at the Cathedral. 

Not only is it good music: Thou visitest the earth, by Maurice Greene; Responses by Bernard Rose; Charles Villiers Stanford Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B Flat; The Heavens are telling by Joseph Haydn, and there's a party afterwards, but the main reason is that my lovely niece JY is progressing from being a probationer to being a chorister in the trebles section of the choir and will be presented with her surplice.  It's a special day for her in the early part of her choral career, whatever form that eventually takes and however far she takes it, it'll doubtless be a special day for her mum and dad, and for her granpa, and her gran and her big sister who are looking down on her from a better place, and not least for me, as she takes the next step as a member of the choir which has been pretty much the biggest part of my life for over 25 years.  In fact, since December 1983 to be fairly specific.

It's great to have my brother and his family back in the UK.  They've been living abroad for about a dozen years, first in Dubai and then in San Diego California, and for some mad reason they decided to come back to the charming weather of Scotland a couple of months ago, but I'm really glad they did.  For sure it's a bit strange having them around, but strange in such a good way.  And having my niece join the cathedral choir pretty much as soon as they returned meant a lot to me.  I truly hope she gets as much fun and joy from singing in the place as I have over the years.

And the title of this post is from memory, a very distant memory, part of the "oath" I took when I was admitted as a treble chorister in the choir of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Motherwell way back in early 1975 when I made the promise to basically try my best.  The word diligently isn't the easiest to say at that age, and I don't remember many people in subsequent years managing to avoid the odd wee stumble over it!

I'm not given to public displays of prayerfulness or religion, although I have posted previously on the subject, but occasionally a prayer touches my heart and means a lot to me.  Whether it's for religious reasons or just for the poetry must remain for discussion over a pint or two (get in touch, I really mean that!), but one of my favourite prayers, which I hope will turn out to mean as much to JY, is kind of linked to the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) and is as follows:

The Chorister's Prayer

Bless, O Lord, us thy servants who minister in thy temple: grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may shew forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Amen

And the Latin motto of the RSCM is Psallam Spiritu et Mente which is from St Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:15) as opposed to his first letter to the Fallopians which is another matter, and translates as I will sing with the Spirit and with understanding, but I think they've almost dropped it and have almost certainly dropped the wonderul coat of arms in the (misguided) rush to modernise and replace it with the one below.   Grrrrrrrrrrr.


  1. Getting one's surplice is a big day. I remember mine distinctly; I couldn't get one of my arms through the arm hole so I had to pretend. In those days they were starched and I think the starch had welded the arm hole together.
    The RSCM had an anthem written about singing with the spirit some years ago. The ABRSM also replaced heir logo a couple of months ago. It's all branding!

  2. They haven't completely dropped the coat of arms - that would probably need an act of parliament or permission from the Lord Lyon King of Arms (you'll just have to imagine the Jean Brodie accent)
    Take a look the next time you meet one of our Bronze award ankle biters.
    If proximity to the bratlets is a problem, reference to a gold award will reveal the same, only shinier.

  3. Maybe so PamB, but try to spot it on their Website. Proximity to brats is to be avoided as far as possible, so I'll have a good look at your shiny Gold one (oo-err missus) soon!

    Tenon-Saw, yes I remember mine too, but thankfully I managed both arms into the sleeves, and to the best of my recollection didn't stumble over the word digi-dilgy-diligently!