Friday 6 July 2012

Thursday 5 July 2012

From Ken Russell's "Elgar"

Between approximately 04.55 and 06.05 may be seen a depiction of Benediction with one of Elgar's settings of the O Salutaris. Although ostensibly representing the composer's early life, in the 19th century, the clergy and servers were among those at St George's, Worcester in 1962 when the film was made. The celebrant, in the impressive gold cope (the parishes best) is Father Arthur Kavanagh S.J. who was Parish Priest at the time. He is assisted by Fr. Jones. This film sequence is of more than ordinary interest to me because all is as I remember it from my youth. Tomorrow, 6th July, will be the fiftieth anniversary of my First Communion which took place on that very sanctuary- in the same year that Russell made his film and, if the certificate I received at the time is to be believed, the celebrant on that occasion was also Fr Kavanagh. I cannot vouch for that, however, as  the priest's signature was the only writing ever inscribed upon it. Also, there were several priests at St George's in those days although the Friday morning mass for the school was usually celebrated by Fr. Thomas Mc Phillips. Friday afternoons, for the school, ended with Benediction much as we see it in the film, except that there were normally only six torchbearers.
I was also delighted at my recent discovery of this clip  because it really does show things as they were in those days before "the barbarians arrived at the gates" although, to be fair, St George's suffered less in reordering than many churches. The original high altar with its reredos and exposition throne remain- so that a fairly full restoration should not be too difficult.

"And with the morn those angel faces smile
which I have loved long since and lost awhile."