...at Westminster Cathedral yesterday, when young teachers from Catholic primary schools in London met for a Day of Art and Music, organised by the Association of Catholic Women with magnificent help and support from the Cathedral Choir School. We are hugely grateful to the latter - their help and encouragement made the day so special. We had a wonderful illustrated talk on Christianity in Art by Lionel Gracey who lectures at Maryvale - with some of the world's most magnificent paintings thrown up on a screen in the Cathedral crypt, and a rapt audience listening to a wonderful exposition of the details and small points...did you know, for instance, that depictions of weddings (eg at Cana) often show a small dog, as a symbol of faithfulness? Or that pine cones (because evergreen) represent eternity and resurrection?
Thanks to the kindness of the Choir School, we were able to use the room where the choristers practice, and took our places at their music-desks to learn Gregorian chant. Jeremy de Satge of The Music Makers led us in a glorious session of music - we learned a Kyrie, psalm setting, Sanctus and Agnus Dei as well as a beautiful Ave Maria...and the day finished with a Mass at which we sang, honouring the Birthday of St John the Baptist in great style.
The Cathedral/choir school/crypt complex is simply wonderful: there are splendid great marbly corridors with doors that lead in a most satisfactory way to unexpected bits of the Cathedral or its sacristies, lovely panelled rooms and antechambers that exude an air of discreet ecclesiastical bustle and the scent of incense and candle...and these interconnect with delicious staircases - some spiral - and it all has a solid Victorian feel which jostles agreeably with the shouts and laughter of the children from the Choir School jumping about in the playground far below, and glorious music wafting from practice-rooms and choir-rooms and from the Cathedral itself. I would love to be given a couple of hours, and a torch - and perhaps a packet of sandwiches and a mobile phone in case of getting lost - and be allowed to explore it all at random.
I had begun the day at the CTS, completing the mailing of the prizes for the ACW's Schools RE Project, a cheery way to start the day. As I hurried to the train to get across the river to Westminster, a crocodile of cheerful children from the nearby church's primary schoo went by. It all made one feel that, in spite of the ghastly Govt, the scary possibilities for the future (rise of BNP? Govt's sinister Equality Bill? Continuing worrisome political scene with cynical appt of new Speaker...etc...) we should just pray and work...